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When will Australia have no coal-fired power plants in its National Electricity Market?

Australia currently has 16 coal-fired power plants in its National Electricity Market (the NEM). The NEM is the country's largest electricity grid, covering six of eight states/territories, including the three most populous. There are also four coal-fired power plants in Western Australia, not part of the NEM.

About two thirds of electricity in the NEM currently comes from coal-fired power plants.

Dates of note

  • For climate change reasons, some environmentalists say Australia should stop burning coal by 2030.

  • The coal-fired power plant with the latest scheduled closure is Loy Yang A, in 2048.

  • The newest coal-fired power plant, Kogan Creek, was built in 2007. An operating life of 50 years would put its closure at 2057 (although plants can be extended beyond a 50-year life).

  • This year, the federal government funded a feasibility study for a new coal-fired power plant.

  • The openCEM model of the NEM has some coal in 2050 in its base case, although in other scenarios coal exits the market. Brown coal in Victoria is particularly tenacious, however.

Resolution

The question resolves positively if either of the following:

  • No coal-fired power plant is connected to the NEM for period of at least two weeks

  • Coal provides less than 1% of NEM electricity generation over any 12 month period

In case NEM ceases to exist, the question resolves ambiguously.

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