Hazelwood tops international list of dirty power stations | wwf

Hazelwood tops international list of dirty power stations

Posted on 12 July 2005   |  

Victoria's out-dated Hazelwood power station is the most polluting of all power stations operating in the world's major industrialised countries.

WWF has collected data on large-scale coal-fired power stations from 30 industrialised countries including Australia, Europe and the US.

The 40-year-old power station in Victoria's Latrobe Valley spews out an astonishing 1.58 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every month.

Hazelwood produces more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity delivered than the dirtiest coal-fired power stations in other leading industrialised nations - including the USA, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Japan and Italy.

Country Most polluting station CO2 intensity (Mt/TWh)1
Australia Hazelwood, Victoria 1.58
USA Edwardsport, Indiana 1.56
Germany Frimmersdorf 1.27
Canada H.R. Milner 1.25
Mexico C. TG. Portes Gil, Rio Bravo 1.18
Poland Belchat?w 1.09
Czech Republic Prunerov 1.07
Japan Niihamanishi 1.02
UK Cockenzie 0.99
Italy Porto Tolle 0.78

Hazelwood is owned by UK company International Power and was built in 1964 using technology from the 1950s.

"In many ways Australia can be regarded as a modern country that plays a leading role among industrialised nations but not when it comes to electricity generation," says WWF-Australia Climate Change campaign manager Anna Reynolds.

Despite receiving a $500 million upgrade over the past eight years, pollution from Hazelwood increased by 2.7 per cent between 1998 and 2004, according to a study by Environment Victoria (Greenhouse Pollution Intensity in the Victorian Brown Coal Industry).

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are building up in the atmosphere and causing a dramatic increase in the Earth's temperature.

Currently power stations are the world's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions - yet in Australia their emissions are still not substantially regulated.

"Greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power stations like Hazelwood is driving global warming," Anna says.

"What this means for Victoria and much of southern Australia is that the climate will become drier with huge pressure on water supplies and endangered species."
The Victorian Government has stated its intention to reduce the State's greenhouse gas emissions by up to 8.3 megatonnes a year by 2012.

Yet deliberations are currently being held to decide whether to extend the life of Australia's - and one of the world's - most polluting power station to 2031.

The additional pollution this would cause (an estimated 340 million tonnes of carbon dioxide) is the equivalent of putting an extra eight million new cars on the road.

"Victoria's 5-star energy efficient homes standard is expected to save 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per annum within five years - just five days of Hazelwood's operations would cancel that benefit," Anna says.

Australia's future energy needs are better met from cleaner energy sources already available and reductions in demand rather than increases in highly polluting sources such as brown coal.

The 2004 Clean Energy Future for Australia study (commissioned by six energy industry associations and WWF) found there are sufficient clean energy resources available in Victoria for the State to reliably meet its energy needs.


1 Greenhouse pollution is measured in emissions intensity (Mt/TWh), which indicates how much pollution, measured in millions of tonnes of CO2 (Mt), is produced for each unit of electricity sent out from a power plant, measured in Tera Watt hours (TWh or one billion kWh).

WWF has analysed power stations with an annual production of more than 100 GWh (output Hazelwood = 12,000 GWh). Smaller stations and stations co-firing gaseous by-products from coke and steel production have not been considered.

Australia is one of the most coal-dependent countries on Earth, after Poland and South Africa. 78 per cent of Australia's electricity is generated in coal-fired power stations. Most countries have a much more diverse mix of sources for their electricity.

Last year, science journal Nature revealed that between 15 and 37 per cent of terrestrial species worldwide could become extinct by 2050 if estimated levels of climate change are not reduced.

WWF's analysis is based on the following source documents:

  • Australian data: Hazelwood West Field EES La Trobe Planning Scheme Amendment C32, Independent Planning Panel (2005)
  • 'Profiles of Australia's Major Fossil Fuel Electricity Generating Companies' - Dr. Mark Diesendorf, August 2003
  • Canadian, Mexican and USA data: 'North American Power Plant Emissions' - Commission for Environmental Cooperation for North America, 2004
  • European Union data: Oeko Institute, Germany - unpublished research of the EU's most polluting power stations, July 2005
  • Japanese data: Unpublished desk research of Japan's most polluting power stations, July 2005
  • UK data: Carbon Dinosaurs, Friends of the Earth, 2003
For further information

Charlie Stevens, WWF-Australia Communications Officer
Phone: (02) 8202 1274
Mobile: 0424 649 689


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