Stanwell reveals move away from coal

Stanwell Corporation has formally announced it will move from fossil fuels to renewables in what will be a game-changer for the power industry in the country.

Touted as Australia’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter and Queensland largest power generator, the news has been praised by conservation and environmental councils.

The Queensland Government-owned corporation operates three coal plants including Tarong, Tarong North and Stanwell just west of Rockhampton.

In a statement released ahead of the future energy summit in Gladstone on Wednesday, Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda said the corporation must shift its focus towards new energy technologies.

“Australia is undergoing a major energy transition and it’s happening at a rapid pace,” Mr Van Breda said.

“The energy market is shifting from fossil fuel generation to renewable energy and storage.

“Over the coming years, Stanwell will respond to the renewable energy needs of our large commercial and industrial customers through new low- or zero-emission generation technologies.

“We will also strive to play a central role in the emerging green hydrogen industry.

“Our Tarong and Stanwell power stations will continue to play an important role as Stanwell’s portfolio transforms.

“We will operate our coal-fired power stations much more flexibly, in response to market requirements.

“This may include seasonal storage of our generating units, or placing units into standby mode so they can be quickly returned if the market needs them.”

Van Breda said the corporation recognised the changes the business “must make in order to remain relevant to our customers” would affect the futures of employees and communities around power stations.

“We are therefore taking early steps to bring our people, communities, unions and government together put plans in place,” he said.

“These plans will help ensure that as we eventually retire our assets from service, our people have choices in relation to retraining, redeployment and – where it is their preference – retirement.

“The plans our host communities develop in partnership with government, local councils, industry and advocacy groups will ensure the long-term economic resilience of their regions. While the communities themselves must own these plans, we will engage with them throughout the planning process, playing a supporting role and sharing our future plans.”

The Queensland Conservation Council, Solar Citizens and Greenpeace Australia Pacific welcomed the announcement

“It’s a really positive first step that Stanwell is being upfront and starting this conversation with communities that will be affected by early coal retirement and curtailment,” said Solar Citizens Energy strategist Stephanie Gray.

“The economics have shifted and the state’s coal and gas-fired power stations are rapidly becoming unprofitable because they can’t keep up with cheaper renewable energy.

“In the latest financial audit the value of Stanwell’s coal and gas plants was decreased by a staggering $720 million.

“Stanwell has taken a lead here and been upfront about the dire situation that Queensland’s coal-fired power stations are in. Now it’s time for the Queensland Government to do the same.”