Sydney Carbon Monsters

This page keeps track of how well Sydney’s old power industry is transitioning away from fossil fuels. When will Sydney’s carbon monsters finally be quenched?

1.0 Sydney’s got more coal-fire power stations than most cities

1.1 Sydney’s electricity comes mainly from burning coal and gas

1.2 Sydney’s Carbon Monsters set to keep baking the climate

1.0 Sydney has an unusual number of monster-size coal-fire stations powering just one city.

As of 2021, almost all of the Sydney region’s coal-fired power stations (“carbon monsters”) are scheduled to burn billions tons of climate-changing carbon over the next couple decades.

These massive coal-burners are among the world’s biggest contributors to climate change. They are fire-breathing carbon monsters and they’re torching the climate.

Sydney was settled in a region gifted with two abundant minerals: black coal and brown coal. Coal was in Sydney’s backyard, and coal is what people used. It was fair dinkum power.

Sydney quickly grew to be Australia’s biggest city – largely by setting coal alight to make electricity. Now people understand how coal-fire power stations are cooking the atmosphere and damaging the climate.

In 2021, cities and states across the world are seeing power companies start to retire their old coal-fired power stations. In New South Wales though, five monster-size coal-fire stations continue to chug away. They’re spewing carbon gas into the atmosphere as if there were no such thing as the greenhouse effect.

Scary thing is, these Sydney-area carbon monsters are scheduled to keep burning the atmosphere for years – even decades.

1.1 It’s 2021 and Sydney’s electricity still comes mostly from burning coal and gas.

Sydney’s energy mix is like that of Australia as a whole: 86 percent of the city’s electricity comes from burning millions of tons of coal and gas each year – the smoke of which is heating the climate.

The resource mix that makes electricity for modern life in the Land of Oz skews mostly towards carbon fuels.

1.2 New South Wales’ most gigantic carbon-fired power stations are set to burn the climate for many years to come

These are the biggest of Sydney’s carbon monsters (coal-fired power stations). These beasts are among the most massive burners of carbon in the world.

“Carbon Monster” is LocalClimate.org’s shorthand meme for “colossal, extremely damaging, super expensive carbon-fired power station.”

In comparison to other big cities across the world, Sydney is over-dependent on coal. Most big cities have been heating the atmosphere with the equivalent of one or two giant coal-fired power stations. Sydney has five of them. One will be shut down soon (2023), but the other four will be spewing over a billion tons of burnt coal for many years to come.

As of 2021, old power companies in the Sydney region won’t cut back on fossil-fueled electricity until the climate has become unbearably hot. That said, see here how the clean electricity sector is moving forward with Sydney’s Great Energy Transition.

Wikipedia: Power Stations in New South Wales. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_New_South_Wales March 9, 2020.

1.2.1 The Carbon Monster at Eraring, NSW might stop spewing carbon in 2030

The Eraring Carbon Monster spews 14,700,000 tons of climate-damaging emissions each year (40,300 tons every day).

The coal-fired power station at Eraring NSW is gargantuan; it is the biggest, most powerful of NSW’s (and Australia’s) coal-fired power stations. It spews about five times as much carbon gas as a typical coal station.

Until 2020, Eraring’s owner/operator, Origin Energy, had been ignoring shareholder requests to move the station’s 2032 shutdown date forward to 2030.

Now, in 2021, the company says it’s open to bringing down this old Godzilla sooner, in light of the changing climate, recent catastrophic bushfires, and public preference for solar and wind energy.

Industry news: smh.com.au/business/companies/origin-energy-says-coal-plant-closure-date-open-to-review-20200220-p542pd.html

photo: Rob Homer

1.2.2 The Carbon Beast at Mount Piper, NSW won’t be extinguished until 2043

The Mt. Piper Carbon Monster spews: 13,100,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year (33,100 tons every day)

This power station is much newer than the other New South Wales carbon monsters, so it has many more years of operational life. To ensure its longevity, its owner, EnergyAustralia, is investing $11 million (in 2020) for repair work. Mount Piper Coal-Fired Power Station will be good-as-new by 2022, and is scheduled to keep spewing millions of tons of carbon gas until 2043.

Industry news: power-technology.com/news/energyaustralia-piper-power-station/

Academic Journal: nature.org.au/media-releases/2019/02/climate-pollution-from-nsw-power-stations-keeps-climbing/

1.2.3 The Carbon Monstrosity at Bayswater, NSW won’t be quenched until 2035

The Bayswater Carbon Monster spews 12,900,000 tons of climate-warming gas each year (35,300 tons every day)

Bayswater Coal-Fired Power Station spews about four times as much carbon gas as a typical coal-fired power station. On-site, when you look at its constant, enormous amount of spew, you are witnessing a major reason why the climate is changing.

In 2019, New South Wales approved a large expansion of the Bayswater power station, allowing it to start blasting more carbon into the atmosphere, not less. As of 2021, this fire-breathing carbon monster is on schedule to torch the climate until 2035.

Wiki: wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayswater_Power_Station

1.2.4 Really? The Carbon Monster at Vales Point, NSW will burn the climate until 2049?

The Vales Point Carbon Monster spews 11,700,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year (32,100 tons every day)

Photo of Trevor St. Baker, a billionaire who got the New South Wales government to give him a coal-burning power plant for almost nothing.

Billionaire Trevor St. Baker is keeping his carbon monster alight for another 27 years.

The giant state-owned Vales Point Coal-Fired Power Station was scheduled to be turned-off in 2021. But in 2015, state government decided to privatized its infrastructure by giving this old carbon monster to billionaire Trevor St. Baker (Sunset Energy). New South Wales, as of 2020, is allowing Mr. St. Baker to bake the climate until 2049.

Local news: centralcoastnews.net/2019/06/19/power-station-sale-contracts-sought-to-explain-1b-loss-mystery/

Academic journal: nature.org.au/media-releases/2019/02/climate-pollution-from-nsw-power-stations-keeps-climbing/

Wiki: wikipedia.org/wiki/Vales_Point_Power_Station

1.2.5 The Carbon Monster at Liddell, NSW will shut down soon, in 2023.

Photo of Liddell Coal-Fired Power Station spewing Climate-damaging carbon gas into the atmosphere.

The Liddell Carbon Monster spews 12,400,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year (33,900 tons every day)

Liddell Coal-Fired Power Station is ancient, in terms of the lifespan of a power station. This carbon monster has blasted over a billion tons of carbon smoke into the atmosphere since its ignition in 1973 – and it’s a big cause of climate change. Owner AGL Macquarie Energy is letting this station run to the end of its life in 2023, which is relatively soon compared to Sydney’s other climate monsters.

These piles of Australian black coal at Liddell Power Station are nine stories high, and they’re about to become a part of the atmosphere. When burnt to make fire, coal’s carbon molecules fuse with oxygen in the air to create carbon dioxide, which keeps too much of the sun’s heat in the atmosphere.

Company site: Origin Energy, Electricity Generation Across Australia, 2020. Originenergy.com.au/blog/electricity-generation-in-australia/

Industry news: energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/liddell-coal-fired-power-station/

photo: jonathan carroll