The audience at our recent The Future is Zero Emissions event was surprised to hear that only 90 minutes from Melbourne, children are suffering preventable health impacts including from mercury. The owner of Australia's dirtiest power station, Yallourn, has not even put in simple bag filters, let alone other systems like scrubbers, that other power station owners have complied with.
The consequences - you've guessed it, local kids are getting sicker - and local communities are bearing unacceptable health impacts. Mercury? Seriously, Melbourne is not in a third world nation. Talk about socialising the costs and privatising the profits.
Are you up for some quick facts on Yallourn? Read on ...
Energy Australia and Yallourn
Yallourn's owner, Energy Australia is Australia's second biggest polluter
Energy Australia was the second highest greenhouse gas emitter in Australia in 2017-18. Only AGL has higher emissions. Energy Australia owns the Yallourn brown coal power station.
Source: Clean Energy Regulator
Yallourn power is the dirtiest power in Australia
The Yallourn brown coal power station has the highest emissions data of any power station in Australia with an emissions intensity of over 1.34 tCO2-e/MWh. In plain English, it is the dirtiest power station in Australia.
Yallourn is responsible for 13% of Victoria's emissions
Each year, Yallourn emits up to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution, 13 percent of Victoria’s emissions. Combined with the other two brown coal power stations and some gas power, electricity generation is responsible for almost 40 percent of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. Read more here from Environment Victoria.
Yallourn is likely to cause summer outages
The Yallourn power station is unreliable and having a large unreliable power station on the grid is likely to result in outages.
Analysis compiled by The Australia Institute has found that Victoria is over-represented when it comes to generator faults; Victoria is home to 20% of the NEM’s coal and gas generation capacity, but is the source of 35% of all power station outages.
The worst culprits are Victoria’s three remaining brown coal generators with, Loy Yang A and Yallourn (W) power stations rated the worst in the country.
Yallourn breakdowns have the potential to cause massive electricity wholesale price spikes
Breakdowns in the Victorian coal generators coincided with high demand, and particularly on the 18th January 2018 where "prices reached their highest point for the summer months of 2018, going to $12,931 per MW h. This is 97 times higher than the average price in January, of $134" - The Australia Institute
Yallourn Power Station has the highest mercury pollution of any power station in Australia
According to new data from the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) and analysis by Environmental Justice Australia, Energy Australia’s Yallourn power station emitted the most mercury of any power station in the country, at 436 kilograms in 2017-18. AGL’s Loy Yang A came in second at 292kg, with Alinta’s Loy Yang B third, emitting 280kg of mercury.
Environment Victoria has further information on the Yallourn Power station health impacts here.
What can we do about this?
Eastern Melbourne Climate Alliance is pleased to join Friends of the Earth and Environment Victoria's push to raise Victoria's climate ambition and help move past coal. There is much to do:
1) We would love you to sign up on our Volunteer page - options include lobbying, working to raise State targets and joining our Powering Past Coal campaign.
2) We will be running and supporting regular actions against the big energy polluters, with a particular focus on health. The recent action at Energy Australia's HQ in Bourke St has put Energy Australia on notice!
3) Sign up to visit your local MP here - check out from Environment Victoria's support and training materials here.
4) Support the rollout of clean renewables and storage, which comes with many new green jobs - the downwards price pressure will help replace Yallourn. In particular getting up the 2GW Star of the South offshore wind project would revitalise our manufacturing and ports sectors and bring over 11,000 jobs, many in coal affected regions. This is why supporting campaigns to raise Victoria's climate ambition and increase the legislated emissions reduction targets (due in March 2020) will have many flow on benefits.