AGL pitches 1.6GW of renewables to retire 1GW coal plant

The $1bn plan includes two large-scale wind farms co-invested with QIC and Future Fund under a joint vehicle.

Australian utility AGL proposed investments in a mix of gas-fired, renewable energy generation and battery storage to replace the 1GW Liddell Power Station as the coal-powered plant is expected to retire in 2022.

With an estimated total capital investment of A$1.36 billion ($1.02 billion; €868 million), the NSW Generation Plan comprises a series of investments in new, low-emissions generation and upgrades to existing generation, including a portfolio of 1.6GW renewable energy projects and a combined 750MW gas-fired power generation.

Two major renewables schemes featured in the first stage – the 453MW Coopers Gap and 200MW Silverton wind farms – are held under the Powering Australian Renewables Fund, a A$1 billion joint investment fund in partnership with QIC and Future Fund. AGL also signed contracts to buy 300MW of solar power generation from two new farms developed by third parties in New South Wales.

In the second and third stages, a combined 750MW of new renewables capacity is planned to be delivered.

The five-year plan also features a 250MW battery, a proposed pumped hydro project in the Hunter region and demand response of up to 150MW, coupled with an efficiency upgrade at the coal-fired Bayswater Power Station and installing a synchronous condenser at Liddell.

The entire portfolio is expected to operate and supply reliable power for 15 to 30 years. Another “less preferred” proposal AGL made would have extended the Liddell plant’s lifetime by five years.

The utility noted that the estimated cost of energy of the Liddell Replacement Portfolio, at A$83 per MWh, is significantly lower than that of extending Liddell’s lifetime, at A$106 per MWh.

“This plan demonstrates that old power plants can be replaced with a mixture of new, cleaner technology, while improving reliability and affordability,” said Graeme Hunt, chairman of AGL. The proposed plan will shrink AGL’s carbon footprint by 17.6 percent.