French energy giant, Engie, has flagged the potential closure of the Hazelwood brown coal generator in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley – widely believed to be the most polluting power plant in the OECD.
Hazelwood emits about 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is 9% of Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and 2.8% of Australia’s total carbon dioxide emissions. It has Australia’s largest carbon capture pilot plant, and one of the largest in the world, which is able to capture just 9,000 tonnes of the 16 million emitted annually.
Engie’s Chief Executive, Isabelle Kocher, told a French Senate committee that Engie planned a gradual withdrawal from coal-fired power generation and that included the potential closure of Hazelwood. She said that “For the Hazelwood plant, we are studying all possible scenarios, including closure, or a sale if the state of Victoria tells us that it cannot meet power generating needs without this plant”.
Victoria currently has surplus generation capacity of about 2,000 megawatts; the Hazlewood plant’s capacity is 1,600 megawatts.
Isabelle Kocher has previously predicted that half of all electricity demand will come from local generation such as rooftop solar. Earlier this month, Engie announced the purchase of an 80% share in US battery storage company Green Charge Networks.