Thw Age has reported that the Victorian Government is considering closing two of the Hazelwood power station’s eight power units. The La Trobe Valley power plant produces almost a quarter of Victoria’s electricity from brown coal and is regarded as Australia’s dirtiest power plant – some environmental groups claim that it is the dirtiest power plant in the developed world.
Closing a quarter of the plant would cut of 4 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year – just over 3% of Victoria’s annual emissions and 0.7% of annual national emissions.
A complete closure of Hazelwood would only go ahead once an emissions trading scheme – or an alternative federal opposition climate plan – is in place.
The Hazlewood Power Station, which is owned by the British company International Power, was to have been decommissioned in 2005 but its planned operating life was extended to 2031 by Victorian Government at that time.
In July, 2009, International Power opened a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant at the Hazelwood power station. The process takes emissions from the power station smoke stacks, extracts CO2 and uses a chemical process to turn it into calcium carbonate. The resulting solid can then be stored above ground or sold to industry.
Although the plant is operating profitably, it is understood that International Power is having difficulty obtaining funding for further capital improvements because of uncertainty about the future price of carbon.