Energy Australia will close the Yallourn power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley in mid-2028, four years ahead of schedule, and build a giant power-generating battery instead.
The brown coal-fired plant has been operating for 47 years and produces about a fifth of the state’s electricity.
Yallourn is Victoria’s oldest power station and was scheduled to close in 2032.
It employs 450 permanent workers plus hundreds of contractors.
‘World of energy changing’
Energy Australia managing director Catherine Tanna confirmed the plant would close in mid 2028.
“The world of energy is rapidly changing,” Ms Tanna said.
“As we transition to cleaner forms, getting that approach right is something I’ve long been passionate about.”
Ms Tanna said Energy Australia would build a 350 megawatt, utility-scale battery in the Latrobe Valley by the end of 2026.
The battery will be located at the company’s Jeeralang gas plant.
“This will provide energy for up to four hours at a time, and is larger than any battery operating in the world today,” she said.
“We are ensuring energy storage is built before Yallourn exits the system, enabling more renewables to enter the system.
“We are determined to show Australia, that it is possible to move from the old to the new in a way that does not leave people behind.”
More plants predicted to close early
Recent analysis by Green Energy Markets and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) predicted up to five of Australia’s 16 coal plants could close by 2025 because of an expected 28 gigawatts of clean energy expected to be connected to the grid.
The analysis found if power prices continued to decline Yallourn, along with the Eraring, Mt Piper, Vales Point B and Gladstone black-coal plants would be making a loss by 2025.
Environment groups and the union movement have previously raised concerns about the early closure of Yallourn.
They do not want to see a repeat of the 2017 Hazelwood power station closure, which shut with six months’ notice and sent the Victorian government scrambling to put in place a $266-million adjustment package to deal with the loss of 750 jobs.