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The death of coal-fired power is inevitable – yet the government still has no plan to help its workforce

Chris Biggs writes in The Conversation (12.3.21) about the coming closure of Victoria’s Yallourn coal-fired power station, criticising the Morrison government for having no plan for Australian coal workers as the nation transitions to clean energy.

‘Yallourn power station – Australia’s oldest, dirtiest coal plant – will close four years ahead of schedule in 2028. Announcing the move this week, operator Energy Australia said it will build a giant energy storage battery on the site to make room for more renewables. This is a powerful statement about where our energy system is heading.

‘Yallourn has operated for 47 years burning brown coal. It supplies one-fifth of Victoria’s energy and employs 500 permanent workers and hundreds more contractors. It’s also responsible for 13% of Victoria’s emissions.

‘In response to the announcement, federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said: “Our thoughts are with the workers, their families and local business owners who rely on the power station for their livelihoods.”

‘So what, exactly, is the the federal government doing to help the 10,000 domestic coal workers set to lose their jobs when Yallourn and other coal power stations shut down? At the moment, the federal government isn’t offering anything more than platitudes.

‘Over the next 15 years, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) projects most of Australia’s 20-odd coal plants will also close. Australia urgently needs investment and policy solutions to manage this inevitable transition. Without it, workers and electricity consumers will be left dangerously exposed.’

The end of coal is coming 3 times faster than expected. Governments must accept it and urgently support a ‘just transition’

Tim Nelson and Joel Gilmore write in The Conversation (13.12.21) about predictions of the rapid closure of coal-fired power stations. The authors warn that governments continuing to deny this reality is simply not in the interests of coal workers and their communities.

‘Coal is likely to be completely gone from Victoria’s electricity system by 2032 with most other parts of Australia not far behind, a report from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) declared last week.

‘The report, called the 2022 Integrated System Plan, confirmed what many of us in energy policy have long known: the end of coal is coming, and the pace may take some industries and governments by surprise.

‘… Given ISP’s prediction for the rapid closure of coal-fired power stations, it’s critical governments don’t stick their heads in the sand. Continuing to deny the impending end of coal-fired generation is simply not in the interest of coal workers and their communities, who urgently need support.’

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