Coal-fired power stations in France to be shut by 2021

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that all coal-fired power stations in France will be shut by 2021. Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande, had planned to shut down the plants by 2023 but President Macron has decided to move that date forward in an ambitious timeline to help France lead the EU (and the world) on climate issues.

Coal-fired power stations in France

Coal-fired power stations in France to close in 2021- President Emmanuel Macron
Coal-fired power stations in France to close in 2021- President Emmanuel Macron

Although France only produces around 1% of its energy from coal-fired power stations in favour of using nuclear power, President Macron’s commitment to shutting them all down is a great step forward for climate change. In 1960 France had 36.5% of their power generated from dirty coal power stations. They currently generate around 75% of their electricity using nuclear energy due to a long-held policy on energy security, but they have a goal to reduce this percentage to 50% by 2025, with one of the main problems what to do with the radioactive waste. In the Champagne-Ardenne region of eastern France, near the village of Bure, they are talking about storing it deep below ground while the radiation slowly reduces. 

Regardless of the fact that it only represents a very small decrease in coal generated power, Mr Macron called the decision “a huge advantage in terms of attractiveness and competitiveness” in a speech discussing France’s view towards climate change: 

“We should stop opposing on one side productivity, on the other side climate change issues,” he said.

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Liddell Power Station To Close in 2022 – AGL Energy

AGL Energy will be closing the Liddell coal-fired power station in 2022, resulting in a 1000MW shortfall of energy. AGL has an exciting plan to cover this missing amount by using a mix of solar power, wind power, pumped hydro, battery storage, and gas peaking plants over a three-stage period leading up to 2022. 

The Closure of Liddell and its implications

The Turnbull government had asked AGL Energy to consider extending the life of the Liddell power station or selling it to someone else, but it doesn’t seem like that plan is on AGL’s radar. According to the SBS, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has asked the AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) have a look at AGL’s idea, advising that it is best to “leave the judgement of (the plan’s) merits to the experts”. 

AGL’s plan for solar/wind/pumped hydro/storage and gas peaking plants will cost $1.3b and is expected to provide electricity at $83/MWh for up to 30 years, in contrast to the much higher cost for Liddell. By keeping it open for just an extra five years the cost would be $920 million and it would cost $106/MWh, according to figures stated on the SBS

“Obviously it’s a significant proposal, there is a host of new technologies and new investments as part of it,” Mr Frydenberg was quoted in Melbourne on Sunday.

“You need all forms of energy in Australia’s future energy mix, there’s a role for coal there’s a role for gas, there is increasingly a role for wind and solar and for battery storage,” he added.

Liddell Power Station - AGL Energy to close it in 2022
Liddell Power Station – AGL Energy to close it in 2022 (source:

This news comes hot on the heels of the closing of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria in March this year. Numerous other coal-fired power stations across New South Wales and Victoria are nearing the end of their 50 year lifespans – with two of Victoria’s three coal-fired plants having outages during last February’s hot weather. 

Federal opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler was complimentary of the plan – whether 

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Solar feed-in tariffs to rise by up to 140%

Despite electricity price hikes of up to 20% last week by AGL Energy, Origin, and EnergyAustralia, there is some respite for those with solar panels feeding energy back into the grid as the same providers have increased their solar feed-in tariffs. For those that aren’t on a grandfathered feed-in tariff, most people have been seeing a fairly low return of around 6c/kWh. These have been raised quite substantially in recent days. 2017 has been a tough year for electricity prices with occurrences such as the closing of the 1600MW Hazelwood coal-fired power plant putting a lot of strain on the system. Although a step in the right direction, renewable energy infrastructure investment vs. ROI still hasn’t reached that magical ‘tipping point’ where it’s a no brainer – especially for homeowners – so it’s great to see the FITs getting a commensurate boost!

Solar feed-in tariffs – 2017 Changes

Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017
Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017 (source:

AGL will increase their solar feed-in tariffs quite significantly (they’ve stated that it could lead to as much as $332 in savings for some households):

  • From 6.8c/kWh to 16.3c/kWh in South Australia (140% increase)
  • From 5c/kWh to 11.3c/kWh in Victoria
  • From 6c/kWh to 10.5c/kWh in Queensland
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 11.1c/kWh in New South Wales

EnergyAustralia have also raised their FITs, with a statement discussing the higher wholesale price of electricity (over the last two years since the carbon tax was repealed the cost of wholesale energy has more than doubled). “The increase means customers will be paid more for the power they send back to the grid, reflecting recent rises in the broader wholesale electricity ­market,” a spokesman said.

  • From 8.2c/kWh to 15c/kWh in South Australia
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 12.5c/kWh in New South Wales
  • From 6c/kWh to 11c/kWh in Queensland

Origin haven’t announced specifics of their new solar feed-in tariffs yet but, according to The Australian, the new FITs will “reflect higher wholesale energy prices, and would be packaged with lower base rates and other discounts.”

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RES Australia propose two new solar farms in New South Wales.

RES Australia are seeking government approval for two solar farms around Mayrung, near the border of NSW and Victoria. They’ll both connect to the TransGrid 132kV – the grid for Mayrung area. The first farm, ‘Currawarra’, will be the biggest solar farm in NSW.

About the Projects

RES currently have two projects they are working on and will submit to the cancel later this year for developmental approval of the following:

Project 1: ‘Currawarra’ is a solar PV plant with 175MW of renewable energy. There will be 500,000 solar panels involved in the project and it will significantly dwarf the current largest operational solar farm in New South Wales – AGL Energy‘s 102MW Nyngan solar plant.

Project 2: ‘Tarleigh Park’ will be a smaller version of Currawarra – the plan is to generate up to 90MW with 250,000 solar panels. Tarleigh Park is approximately 20km south east of Denilquin.

Both plants will feed directly to the TransGrid.

About RES Australia

RES Australia
RES Australia

According to the project manager of Currawarra and Tarleigh Park for RES, Mike Whitbread, they are hoping to have the applications completed and submitted by September. If the applications are accepted then they plan to start creation of the projects in 2018. Currawarra will take approximately 1.5 years and the construction of Tarleigh Park is expected to be 9-12 months.

Whitbread was quoted in about discussing the impact the projects will have on the region, especially during the construction phase:

“We recently completed the Ararat Wind Farm in Victoria and basically our workers filled the town’s accommodation during the construction phase. The workers stayed in town, ate in town and used the local facilities,” Mr Whitbread said.

RES Australia, as a subsidiary of the RES group in the UK, are already seasoned veterans in the renewable energy field, managing over 2GW in renewable energy projects over the world. They have recently completed wind farm projects in Taralga in NSW, and Ararat / Murra Warra in Victoria.



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