Wollongong’s Tallawarra Power Station failed last week – for the second time in the past month.
The Australia Institute (AI), a Canberra-based think tank, reported the gas-fired power station – on the shore of Lake Illawarra at Yallah – suddenly dropped to zero output on Friday afternoon.
The Energy Australia plant had been generating 394 megawatts (MW) when the outage occurred for about two hours and 20 minutes from 2pm. It didn’t return to the earlier output figure for another two hours.
The cause of last week’s breakdown wasn’t known, AI principal adviser Mark Ogge said, but it was the second outage in a month.
The Tallawarra plant went offline on the evening of December 25, when its output plummeted from a bit over 400MW to zero.
The station also failed on February 10 last year, a day when the temperature hit 37.8 degrees at nearby Albion Park. At that time, the suburb experienced three consecutive days of temperatures above 33 degrees.
Mr Ogge – who has been tracking shutdowns nationwide – said the Tallawarra outage, among others, was evidence coal and gas plants couldn’t handle the heat.
“We’re entering an era of dramatically-increasing heatwaves,” he said.
“The Bureau of Meteorology’s telling us that and the statistics are telling us that there’s just an unprecedented amount of extreme weather days.
“These plants weren’t designed to cope with that.”
Mr Ogge said Tallawarra was a “brand new” state-of-the-art station and should be one of the most reliable plants in Australia.
“Even the plants that are meant to be the most efficient, the most reliable and the newest are consistently failing,” he said. “[They] are consistently having outages where they drop to zero output in a number of seconds.”
Mr Ogge said the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) had implemented “stop-gap measures” to provide extra capacity this year, including diesel generators and un-mothballing some gas plants, but alternate options like solar and wind were needed.
The Mercury contacted Energy Australia for comment, but no response was received by deadline.