WA’s cleanest and most efficient base-load power station has been switched off for three weeks because too much power is being generated by less environmentally friendly publicly and privately owned coal-fired power stations.
The problem will grow as more wind power comes into the system.
Verve has switched off its 240 megawatt Cockburn combined gas cycle plant, which produces half the greenhouse emissions of coal-fired plants, because of the State-owned utility’s legal requirement it be the “balancer” in the South West electricity market.
The commissioning of Griffin Energy’s Bluewaters 1 and 2 coal-fired stations in Collie and ERM’s Kwinana NewGen combined gas cycle station added an extra 736MW of private generating capacity to the South West grid between July 2008 and December 2009, and last week’s opening of the Collgar wind farm added 206MW.
Because of the balancing requirements, Verve must scale back its plants when supply exceeds demand, meaning its coal-powered stations are “cycled” or switched on and off as power needs fluctuate.
Verve chief Shirley In’t Veld said cycling at Cockburn would “trash” the unit.
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