Anglesea Power Station
|Anglesea Power Station|
The single steam turbine 150MW Anglesea power station. Photo: John Englart
Location of Anglesea Power Station in Australia
|Commission date||20 March 1969|
|Thermal power station|
|Primary fuel||Brown coal|
|Units operational||1 × 150 megawatts (200,000 hp)|
|Nameplate capacity||150 megawatts (200,000 hp)|
The Anglesea Power Station is a brown coal–powered thermal power station located at Anglesea, in Victoria, Australia within the floristically rich Anglesea Heath area. The station has one steam turbine with a capacity of 150 megawatts (200,000 hp) of electricity, supplying almost 40% of the electricity used by the nearby Point Henry aluminium smelter, operated by Alcoa of Australia. The power station was brought online on 20 March 1969, and is supplied with coal by the adjacent open cut mine, transported to the power station along a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) long private road. Overburden is stripped and backfilled into the mined area by earthmoving contractors using conventional power shovels and trucks. About 80 people work at the coal mine and power station. The power plant and mine will close in August 2015, after Alcoa was unable to find a buyer following the closure of the Port Henry aluminium smelter in 2014.
From 1955 test bores for coal were made at Anglesea by the Roche Brothers, who were then operating a mine at nearby Wensleydale where the coal reserves were dwindling. An extensive coal deposit was found two kilometres to the north of the Anglesea township, with mining commencing in 1959 to supply brown coal to industry and institutions in the Geelong area. The mining rights were taken over by Western Mining Corporation (WMC) in 1961 to supply the power station planned by Alcoa of Australia. The Mines (Aluminum Agreement) Act of 1961 granted Alcoa a 50–year exclusive right to explore and mine over some 7,350 hectares (18,200 acres) of leasehold land in the region. After further drilling investigation WMC relocated the mining operation to the east of the original mine, closer to the power station site and providing access to a larger coal reserve of 50 million long tons (51,000,000 t). The total thickness of the coal seams is about 140 metres (460 ft), with total economic mineable reserves estimated at 70 million long tons (71,000,000 t) in the upper seam, and a further 90 million long tons (91,000,000 t) in lower seams. In 1992 the overburden to coal ratio averaged around 2.5 to 1, with an average coal thickness of 27 metres (89 ft).
Following negotiation with the Victorian government in 2011, Alcoa took up a 50–year extension of the Agreement under the Mines (Aluminium Agreement) Act 1961, allowing for continued operation of the mine and power station until 2016. Alcoa has outlined plans to expand the footprint of the mine by approximately 50 percent, taking the total disturbed area from approximately 400 to 600 hectares (990 to 1,480 acres), from about 2016.
As of 2005 approximately 35 million tonnes (34×106 long tons) of coal had been mined, with about 1.1 million tonnes (1.1×106 long tons) of brown coal mined annually to feed a boiler that consumes 144 tonnes (142 long tons; 159 short tons) of pulverised brown coal an hour. The coal at Anglesea has a high quality heat value when compared to other brown coals used to produce electricity in Victoria, but has a much higher level of sulphur of around 3%, resulting in high levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Carbon Monitoring for Action estimates this power station emits 1.21 million tonnes (1.19×106 long tons) of greenhouse gases each year as a result of burning coal. Anglesea draws its cooling water from six sub-artesian well bores, supplemented with rainwater.
With the closure of the Point Henry Aluminium smelter, Alcoa applied for and was granted a licence in May 2014 by the Essential Services Commission to sell electricity to the National Electricity Market. It is widely believed that Alcoa is looking for a buyer of the power station and coal mine, An Alcoa spokesperson said in February 2014 "Alcoa believes the Anglesea power station is a viable asset and that is why it will be offered for sale. If a sale is not possible, we will evaluate options at that time, including possible closure.”
In May 2015, Alcoa announced that it was unable to find a buyer for the plant, and would close it and the associated coal mine in August 2015.
Since 2011 Alcoa and the Anglesea power station have come under increasing local criticism, with residents forming the Surf Coast Air Action group concerned with health impacts of air pollution from the mine and power station. The group has campaigned for reduced emissions from the power station, and with the closure of the Port Henry aluminium smelter that there is little justification for continuing the operation of the power station.
Alcoa rejected claims it had exceeded targets, saying it had met its worldwide targets for reducing sulphur dioxide emissions, although it did not dispute that Anglesea’s SO2 emissions actually went up from a base figure of 32,899 tonnes (32,379 long tons; 36,265 short tons) to 39,000 tonnes (38,000 long tons; 43,000 short tons) in 2012-2013.
Friends of the Earth Australia argued in its December 2013 submission to the Essential Services Commission (Victoria) that Alcoa should not be granted a licence to directly sell power to the National Electricity Market for four reasons: no additional coal fired power was needed, Alcoa has no social licence to operate in the energy market, local health concerns, and that continuing operation of the power station undermines efforts to address climate change.
Alcoa's licence for the Anglesea Power Station to transmit electricity to the grid was approved, although community groups said the decision lacked transparency and legitimacy as no community consultation was conducted by the Essential Services Commission.
Two major protests in Anglesea have occurred in 2014 regarding the future of the coal mine and power station. In July over 500 people made up a human sign on the beach at Anglesea saying 'Shut it Down'. On 10 August 2014 several hundred people attended a rally and march calling for the coal mine and power station to be shut down.
- R. Arklay and I. Sayer - 'Geelong's Electric Supply' - September 1970
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- Vines, Jack (2008). "Anglesea Brown Coal Mine". Coal Mining Heritage Study. www.heritage.vic.gov.au. p. Page 45. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Soames, Nicholas, 25 October 2011, Alcoa Anglesea Mine Agreement Extended For Another 50 Years Surf Coast News, Retrieved 28 August 2014
- Baker, Richard, 21 March 2011 Alcoa mine could take heritage heathland The Age, Retrieved 28 August 2014
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- ABC Radio National Breakfast, 5 July 2012, Anglesea residents worried about Alcoa health impacts Australian Broadcasting Corporation Retrieved 28 August 2014
- Arup, Tom; Donelly, Beau; 19 February 2014, Call to clear the air on Anglesea power plant's future, The Age Retrieved 28 August 2014
- Taylor, James, Alcoa rejects claim of emission target failure, Surf Coast Times, Retrieved 28 August 2014
- Andrew Laird, 17 July 2014, Corporate spin breaks into a trot, Letter to Surf Coast Times reprinted by Surf Coast Air Action. Retrieved 28 August 2014
- Friends of the Earth submission on Alcoa power station licence, Retrieved 28 August 2014
- John Conroy, 23 May 2014, 'No consultation' over brown coal plant licence, Business Spectator, Retrieved 28 August 2014
- Taylor, James (26 July 2014). "Anglesea beach sign spells out mine message". Surf Coast Times (Surf Coast Air Action). Retrieved 28 August 2014.
- Whitelaw, Anna (10 August 2014). "Hundreds rally for Alcoa coal mine closure". The Age. Retrieved 28 August 2014.