Zero Net Emissions by 2025

References on Why Replace Hazelwood

Posted on 14 December 2010 by e-news

In response to 3 letters from Robin Taylor and others in the Castlemaine Mail of Nov 19th MASG has posted the following reply.

Dear Editor
I am writing to counter the misinformation given by Mr. Taylor and Mr. Malherbe in their letters to the Castlemaine Mail of November 19th 2010 regarding the article on the replacement of Hazelwood power station with renewable energy.

But let me start by saying that contrary to Mr. Taylor and Malherbe’s claims that the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group is a small radical green group, we are not aligned to any political party and our aim is to assist local people take action on climate change. We work in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency focusing on its application in our shire. For example we work to assist local people have more comfortable homes with lower power bills, help local people and businesses install solar Hot water systems or solar PV systems, saving them money and thus helping the local economy and environment.
To date we have helped over 270 local families install solar PV systems, and we will be working next year to assist more families do the same as part of a State Government funded Solar Hubs project.
We do all this work in a not for profit way with the support of hundreds of members and thousands of hours from our volunteers.

Sometimes we speak out publically to highlight the need for change and that is why we joined the replace Hazelwood rally in Melbourne.

Why should we replace Hazelwood? So that Victoria cuts our dependence on old, outdated and polluting ways. So that we stop wasting nearly 20% of the electricity that is produced in the Latrobe valley, and is lost in transmission to Castlemaine but paid for in our electricity bills. So that we have a clean, more reliable and secure locally generated electricity supply. So that we can do our bit for a better, cleaner, safer Victoria.

It is a fact that Hazelwood is Australia’s most polluting power station. This is stated in the ACIL Tasman report commissioned by National Electricity Market Company [ 1]  and repeated by the then Premier John Brumby who said on Oct 14th this year “…it’s important to close down Hazelwood because it’s the dirtiest, most polluting power station in Australia.”  [ 2 ] I think our national electricity regulator and the Premier of Victoria would know which power plants are the most polluting and I trust their figures more than those of Mr. Taylor et al.

Contrary to Mr. Taylor’s claims Hazelwood does use 27b litres of water each year. It uses water from 3 different sources, not only one as suggested by Mr Malherbe. 13BL is used from the Moondarra Reservoir, about 12BL from mine dewatering (which is ground water supply – this means it’s more water out of our rivers), and about 2BL from other sources. This information is from the 2009 Australian Government National Water Commission report on water and the generation industry [ 3 ] and is publically available . Make sure you include all of the facts please gentlemen.

Hazelwood has immediate and long term impacts on the health of the workers in the station and the surrounding Latrobe Valley residents and environment. Hazelwood is Australia’s largest point source of dioxins, poisons known for their cancer causing effects, poisons that persist in the environment and build up in the food chain, including in people. This fact comes from the Australian Government National Pollution Inventory [ 4 ]  , and the unfortunate effects of the persistent organic pollutants like dioxins are easily found in any number of reports, including those from the World Health Organisation [ 5 ] .

Hazelwood also produces coal smog and ash, also known causes of cancer, respiratory diseases and other effects. Indeed the 2009 report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) calculated the human health costs from using coal fired power stations on our economy to be at least $2.6B per year, a figure that does not include the misery and suffering of those affected by these illnesses. That report actually says “ We need to make the point that coal is the most expensive fuel if one includes the cost of externalities, for example the costs from ill health.” [ 6 ]

It’s well known that clean renewable energy is good for jobs. For example Germany has created 240,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector as a direct result of their Renewable Energy Act.  This well known  fact comes from a German Government report [ 7 ] .  You can make up numbers around how many people lost their jobs in Spain last year due to the financial crisis and try and pin it on any number of causes, but not renewable energy. The unfortunate fact is that the global financial crisis also led to dozens of local people losing their jobs here in Castlemaine at Flowserve and Victoria Carpets. Neither of these instances of recession and job losses have anything to do with policies around renewable energy. In fact taking action on pollution and climate change creates jobs as evident in Germany and elsewhere.

It is with great pleasure that I can further inform Mr Malherbe and Taylor of the impeccable scientific credentials of Professor David Karoly [ 8 ] . He is Professor of Meteorology and an ARC Federation Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He is an expert in climate change science. Let me list his credentials; he was Chair of the Premier of Victoria’s Climate Change Reference Group during 2008-09 and was invited to join the Australian Government’s High Level Coordinating Group on Climate Change Science at the end of 2009 . He has researched and published dozens of articles on climate science and is a world recognised expert in his field. To call him a “radical” speaker or “alarmist” is scandalous and potentially libelous. Would you call a doctor a radical and alarmist if they advised you to quit your heavy smoking for your health because you didn’t like the message? I think the scientific credentials of Professor Karoly makes him an expert on global warming of world note, and one we should pay heed of. The same cannot be said for Mr. Malherbe and friends.

Similar nonsense around the potential for baseload power must also be exposed. Renewable energy is capable of producing baseload power. There are solar thermal electricity plants in Spain commercially operating that can store the heat from the sun and continue to generate electricity overnight [ 9 ] . Spain and California are going gangbusters building such plants , indeed 34 have been given planning permission in Spain alone, and we could do the same here. Indeed much of the technology was developed in Australia, but for lack of support here, is being commercialised and used overseas.

All of the references used in this article are from independent, credible sources available on the public record, and will be available at the MASG office, or you can access them online.

 I would welcome the opportunity to debate this issue in public with Mr Taylor or Mr Malherbe if they wish to continue this discussion.

In summary- let’s replace Hazelwood and get out of polluting energy generation. The technology is well established, available and is being widely used overseas. It’s time Victoria got its heads out of the smoke stack, replaced Hazelwood power station and used our abundant sun, wind, waves, hot rocks and other renewable resources to power our communities.

Sincerely yours
Dean Bridgfoot
Project Officer
Mount Alexander Sustainability Group


 [1 ] ACIL report at accessed 23/11/2010

[ 2 ] ABC interview transcript at accessed 23/11/2010

[ 3 ] 23/11/2010

[ 4 ] Australian National Pollution Inventory and Dioxin emissions see accessed 23/11/2010

[ 5 ] For the impacts of Dioxins on human health start with accessed 23/11/2010

[ 6 ] See accessed 23/11/2010

[ 7 ] See  the Report to the Bundestag from the the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) accessed 23/11/2010

[ 8 ]Professor Karoly’s credentials from accessed 23/11/2010

[ 9 ] Spain has 15,500MW of solar thermal plants approved through the planning process, more than enough to power all of NSW and 34 are under construction right now. See accessed 23/11/2010

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