Liddell Power Station

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Liddell Power Station
Liddell Power Station.jpg
Liddell Power Station in 2006
  • Australia
Locationnear Muswellbrook, New South Wales
Coordinates32°22′19″S 150°58′38″E / 32.37194°S 150.97722°E / -32.37194; 150.97722Coordinates: 32°22′19″S 150°58′38″E / 32.37194°S 150.97722°E / -32.37194; 150.97722
Commission date1971–1973
Decommission dateApril 2023 (scheduled)
Owner(s)AGL Energy
Thermal power station
Primary fuelCoal
Secondary fuelOil
Turbine technologySteam turbine;
Gas turbine
Cooling sourceLake Liddell
Power generation
Units operational4 × 500 megawatts (670,000 hp)
2 × 25 megawatts (34,000 hp)
1 × 0.85 megawatts (1,140 hp) mini-hydro
Make and modelGEC
Nameplate capacity2051 MW
Capacity factor51.02% (average 2017–2021)
Annual net output8,938 GW·h (average 2017–2021)
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

Liddell Power Station is a coal-fired thermal power station with four 500 megawatts (670,000 hp) GEC steam driven turbine alternators for a combined electrical capacity of 2,000 megawatts (2,700,000 hp).

However, as at April 2018, its operating capacity has been assessed at 1,680 megawatts (2,250,000 hp).[1] Commissioned between 1971 and 1973, the station is located adjacent to Lake Liddell near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Region of Australia. It is expected to be fully closed down by April 2023.


In September 1964, the Government of New South Wales announced its intention to build the Liddell Power Station adjacent to Lake Liddell.[2] The first of four generators was completed in 1971, two more in 1972, and the fourth in 1973. At the time of its completion, Liddell was the most powerful generating station in Australia. Liddell was the first major power station in New South Wales to be built inland, using fresh water for cooling instead of the more abundant salt water used in coastal power stations. To accommodate this, Lake Liddell was expanded to provide more water requiring an 11 kilometre section of the Main Northern railway line to be rebuilt on a new alignment.[3][4] The completion of Liddell aided in the retirement of power stations in Sydney, such as Balmain and Bunnerong.

Originally the plant was fitted with the then-standard electrostatic precipitators for dust collection, and the more efficient fabric filters (as used at Eraring, Munmorah units 3 and 4, Vales Point 5+6, Bayswater and Mount Piper) were retrofitted in the early 1990s, reducing particulate emissions to a barely visible level. Much of the coal is supplied by overland conveyors from mines it shares with the nearby Bayswater Power Station.

In 2007, a project commenced at Liddell to replace some of the station's boiler feed-water by hot water from a solar thermal array.[5] As of March 2007, the project was at a second-stage prototype but had not been connected to the power station. Subsequently the 9 MW solar section was added to the Liddell coal-fired generator, but has now effectively been closed. Analysts say the incentive to use the solar boost was reduced by the removal of the carbon price and excess coal supply.[6]

Liddell power station was owned by the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, with ownership transferred in 1996 to Macquarie Generation.[7] In September 2014 Liddell was included in the sale of Macquarie Generation by the New South Wales government to AGL Energy.[8]

Alternative fuel sources[edit]

In addition to the coal-fired steam turbines, Liddell runs two 25 MW oil-fired gas turbines[9] and an 0.85 MW mini-hydroelectric generator.[9][10] It is also "licensed to co-fire plant biomass and coal to produce electricity", which essentially means it can use sawdust and wood shavings from the nearby timber industry as a portion of its fuel, replacing up to 5% of its coal requirements.[11][12] In practice, however, biomass accounts for only about 0.5% of Liddell's output.[citation needed]

Greenhouse emissions[edit]

Carbon Monitoring for Action estimates Liddell power station emits 14.70 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year as a result of burning coal.[13] In 2010 the Australian Government introduced a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme to help combat climate change. The scheme has impacted on emissions from power stations. The National Pollutant Inventory provides details of a range of pollutant emissions, including CO, estimated at 1,000,000 kilograms (2,200,000 lb) for the year ending 30 June 2011.[14] a Freedom of Information request in 2018 revealed that Liddell is allowed to emit three times more than the best practice-allowed amount of nitrogen oxide.[15]

Expected closure[edit]

AGL announced in 2015 and reaffirmed in 2017 that it intends to close the Liddell Power Station in 2022.[16] The closure of this and other coal-burning power stations in Australia led the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to seek advice from the Australian Energy Market Operator on extending the life of a number of them,[17] to head off anticipated future electricity shortages.[18] Turnbull said the government had been advised that if the Liddell plant were to close in 2022, there would be a 1000MW gap in base load, dispatchable power generation.[17] The Turnbull Government asked AGL to keep Liddell open beyond 2022, or to sell the Liddell Power Plant to Alinta Energy.[19] In August 2019, AGL announced that three of the turbines would be able to be kept running until April 2023, to ensure reliable power supply to New South Wales during the 2022–23 summer.[20]

In December 2018, a proposed upgrade to the Bayswater Power Station was approved to be completed around the same time as the proposed closure of Liddell. Both are owned by AGL Energy and consume coal from the same mine. The upgrade approval did not impose tighter air emission controls, however AGL claimed that the closure of Liddell would result in a net improvement in air quality.[21]

After Liddell's closure, the site is planned to house a big battery of at least 150 MW.[22]

The first turbine was closed in April 2022, with the other three turbines planned to close in April 2023.[23]


The generation table uses eljmkt nemlog to obtain generation values for each year. Records date back to 2011.

Liddell Power Station Generation (MWh)
Year Total LD01 LD02 LD03 LD04
2011 8,298,580 2,505,649 2,005,141 938,923 2,848,867
2012 7,865,039 2,462,253 2,132,226 1,264,696 2,005,864
2013 6,919,912 2,202,551 1,307,724 2,957,380 452,257
2014 7,585,713 1,794,219 1,615,699 1,923,304 2,252,491
2015 8,561,448 814,969 2,468,106 2,306,802 2,971,571
2016 9,037,331 2,409,097 2,087,540 2,361,397 2,179,297
2017 8,212,654 1,884,395 1,333,847 2,619,564 2,374,848
2018 9,147,807 2,634,806 2,413,888 1,214,612 2,884,501
2019 10,789,224 2,825,008 2,710,277 3,057,329 2,196,610
2020 8,350,728 2,044,901 1,410,233 2,230,925 2,664,669
2021 8,189,336 2,139,589 2,245,543 1,570,906 2,233,298

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The fight about AGL's Liddell power station explained Australian Financial Review 9 April 2018
  2. ^ Power station to revive coal industry Canberra Times 1 October 1964 page 27
  3. ^ Liddell Track Deviation Network July 1966 page 3
  4. ^ Seven-Mile Rail Deviation to Bypass Power Stn Project Railway Transportation October 1966 page 9
  5. ^ "Liddell Solar Project Update". Macquarie Generation. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  6. ^ Giles Parkinson (21 March 2016). "CS Energy pulls plug on world's largest "solar booster" project". RE New Economy.
  7. ^ "Macgen Website"
  8. ^ "AGL completes acquisition of Macquarie Generation assets". AGL Energy. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Statement of Corporate Intent 2005/2006" (PDF). Macquarie Generation. 13 December 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 5 August 2006.
  10. ^ "Liddell Power Station" (Press release). Macquarie Generation. 7 February 2000. Archived from the original on 31 March 2006. Retrieved 5 August 2006.
  11. ^ "Renewable energy". Macquarie Generation. Archived from the original on 19 July 2006. Retrieved 5 August 2006.
  12. ^ "Biomass Co-firing". Macquarie Generation. Retrieved 5 August 2006.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Plant overview: Liddell". Carbon Monitoring for Action. 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Liddell Power Station, Muswellbrook NSW". Carbon Monitoring for Action. Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Liddell power station given special pollution exemption, documents reveal". ABC News. 22 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  16. ^ "AGL Energy statement on Liddell Power Station". AGL Energy. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  17. ^ a b Osborne, Paul (6 September 2017). "Turnbull throws his weight behind coal power". InDaily. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  18. ^ Liddell power plant operating below 40 per cent capacity, faces 'mammoth' woes
  19. ^ "Frydenberg pressures AGL to sell Liddell power station to Alinta". ABC News. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  20. ^ Wakatama, Giselle; Farquhar, Liz (2 August 2019). "AGL defers Liddell, Torrens power plant closures in bid to avoid summer blackouts". ABC Newcastle. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  21. ^ McCarthy, Joanne (8 December 2018). "Upper Hunter air quality will improve 'significantly' after Liddell closes, says Bayswater upgrade report". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  22. ^ Mazengarb, Michael (14 August 2020). "AGL seeks approval for 500MW big battery at site of Liddell coal generator". RenewEconomy. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  23. ^ Doyle, Blake; Farquhar, Liz (1 April 2022). "Liddell power station wind-down begins after 50 years of burning coal". ABC News. Retrieved 13 April 2022.

External links[edit]

Media related to Liddell Power Station at Wikimedia Commons