Leigh Creek Coal Train - The End Is Nigh

 
  ben0 Locomotive Fireman

Location: South Australia
It is also worth pointing out that the Vics don't have to put their coal on a train for 600km which I'm sure saves them some dollars. Has it got to the point now where moving electrical power from Latrobe Valley to Adelaide is cheaper than moving coal from Leigh Creek to Pt Augusta?

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  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Has it got to the point now where moving electrical power from Latrobe Valley to Adelaide is cheaper than moving coal from Leigh Creek to Pt Augusta?
ben0
Probably
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Has it got to the point now where moving electrical power from Latrobe Valley to Adelaide is cheaper than moving coal from Leigh Creek to Pt Augusta?
Probably
RTT_Rules
No, it's not about the cost of moving the coal at all.
It's about closing down a life expired Power station.
Alinta has chosen to close the power stations rather than spending multi millions of dollars to rebuild them.
  MetroFemme Chief Train Controller

Maybe the mine was running out of coal as another factor in the decision?
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

Maybe the mine was running out of coal as another factor in the decision?
MetroFemme
No plenty of coal left. Don't make up things that are far from fact.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Maybe the mine was running out of coal as another factor in the decision?
MetroFemme
If you read back a few pages you'll find references to the Leigh Creek mine having at least 8 years worth of coal reserves.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Has it got to the point now where moving electrical power from Latrobe Valley to Adelaide is cheaper than moving coal from Leigh Creek to Pt Augusta?
Probably
No, it's not about the cost of moving the coal at all.
It's about closing down a life expired Power station.
Alinta has chosen to close the power stations rather than spending multi millions of dollars to rebuild them.
Pressman

Northern is 1985 era, why is it that in other states power stations much older still have many years or in some cases decades of operation ahead of them?

You mentioned after the mine had 8 years left, to justify a new power station you need 30 years of coal, I assume the pit itself is in the last 8 years of life, but the lease may have alt viable reserves?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
Northern is 1985 era, why is it that in other states power stations much older still have many years or in some cases decades of operation ahead of them?
RTT_Rules
From experience I'd suspect that Northern was coming up for a significant overhaul in the near future. It's about 30 years old, similar to the age of Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria when it was privatised (~1996). The original SECV plan for Hazelwood was to just decommission it unit-by-unit instead of investing in the mid-life overhaul and build a new, much more modern power station (Driffield) much closer to where the current mining operations are today. I can't remember if the decision to overhaul Hazelwood was made by the SECV or its post-privatisation owners, but clearly they ran the numbers and figured they could get more value out of the overhaul.

8 years mine-life and a looming costly overhaul that would add 20-30 years onto the life of Northern clearly didn't look like an attractive proposition to Alinta.
  prwise Locomotive Driver


Northern is 1985 era, why is it that in other states power stations much older still have many years or in some cases decades of operation ahead of them?
RTT_Rules
From a previous life I know a little bit about the Northen Plant. The plant is quite robust and would have at least another 20 years of reliable generation left in it. On the time scale of operating power stations it is a relative youngster. It is 10 years younger than Gladstone, and I can assure you owners NRG et al are going nowhere else anytime soon. soon. Even Hazelwood is on average 20 years older and still manages fairly high capacity and availability factors.  GDF have not announced any retirement plans for it - yet, although the end must soon be nigh.
Alinta made a business decision. They are big boys. Went in with their eyes open and got burnt. They sucked it up. Didn't run around seeking government bailouts and subsidies.  Unfortunately they got burnt by the government interfence in renewables that tilted the landscape against them. SA consumers are the loosers out of this sorry saga. They will have to live with the highest power prices in Australia and the unemployment that goes with it from being unable to attact meaningful business to the state.
To all those that preach renewables are cheaper than fossil, and embracing them will put a downward pressure on prices - good. Stop any government interference and they should thrive in a free market if in fact this is the case.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Has it got to the point now where moving electrical power from Latrobe Valley to Adelaide is cheaper than moving coal from Leigh Creek to Pt Augusta?
Probably
No, it's not about the cost of moving the coal at all.
It's about closing down a life expired Power station.
Alinta has chosen to close the power stations rather than spending multi millions of dollars to rebuild them.

Northern is 1985 era, why is it that in other states power stations much older still have many years or in some cases decades of operation ahead of them?

You mentioned after the mine had 8 years left, to justify a new power station you need 30 years of coal, I assume the pit itself is in the last 8 years of life, but the lease may have alt viable reserves?
RTT_Rules
Each station would have it's own set of circumstances in respect to ongoing upgrading and the viability of such.
Alinta's closure announcement came on the back of a substantial operating loss (refer original post in this thread see page 1)


Many years ago (+20 I think) Whilst ETSA was still the owner, they actually moved the entire town of Leigh Creek! It was originally located about 6 kms north of Copley, ETSA relocated the town to a position about 5 kms south of Copley.
This was because the old town was actually situated on the coal seam, and was "in the way" of the then required expansion of the open cut. It would depend on the seam depth at to whether further expansion would be viable.
But this irrevalent if the power station is not viable to upgrade effectively.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Looks to be plenty of coal in the mine and around the mine and from internet reading including here.

Perhaps cost of the production of power was becoming too high meaning a competitive issue?
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Looks to be plenty of coal in the mine and around the mine and from internet reading including here.

Perhaps cost of the production of power was becoming too high meaning a competitive issue?
JimYarin
Or the wholesale market 'trashed' by subsidised renewables
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

It's not the market being "trashed" by renewables, but rather a large number of employees spread across a relatively small amount of power generation. It has an output capacity of 520 MW from 2 x 260 MW generators, but about 500 employees across the power station and mine.  Add the cost of railing the coal and it's difficult to compete with mine-side power stations in Victoria that can spread their employee costs over about ~1200 MW, and no rail charges.

Spot power prices are shown on the AEMO website. Unless it's windy, power prices are higher in SA than Vic, so even at these higher rates Northern was still losing money. I suspect the profit margins for the Vic generators are also quite thin, and that it would only take for loss of a major purchaser such as Portland Aluminium and we'd see one of the Vic brown coal generators close, leaving the State with a huge liability for mine clean-up.

http://www.aemo.com.au/
  prwise Locomotive Driver

It's not the market being "trashed" by renewables, but rather a large number of employees spread across a relatively small amount of power generation. It has an output capacity of 520 MW from 2 x 260 MW generators, but about 500 employees across the power station and mine.  Add the cost of railing the coal and it's difficult to compete with mine-side power stations in Victoria that can spread their employee costs over about ~1200 MW, and no rail charges.

Spot power prices are shown on the AEMO website. Unless it's windy, power prices are higher in SA than Vic, so even at these higher rates Northern was still losing money. I suspect the profit margins for the Vic generators are also quite thin, and that it would only take for loss of a major purchaser such as Portland Aluminium and we'd see one of the Vic brown coal generators close, leaving the State with a huge liability for mine clean-up.

http://www.aemo.com.au/
mm42
The fact SA prices are higher than Vic does not change the business case for Northen. Firstly we need to know what would happen to prices if Alinta chose to enter the market rather than withdraw from the market. My gut feel is the addition of over 500MW of base load into the SA market would see prices down around our ankles.
NWS this Alinta should have done their homework better when bidding for the station. Problem is that Alinta had their rose coloured glasses on when crunching number for the purchase price. The initial owners of the Vic plants had even rosier colour glasses.
My rant was more about the stupidity of shutting down perfectly servicable generation plant while we are spending billions overseas to import renewable energy plant that will only do the job half as well as Northern. We might be the lucky country for a little bit longer, but outcomes like this make us the dumb country.
Re Vic demand and market. Yes - market fragile and desperately in need of an increase in demand. My sources indicate Portland OK for a more years.  And yes - Alcoa do have a ranking list. It is all pretty cold and clinical and when you number is up then .......
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

We need to remember that power supplied over the interconnectors is unlikely to be green. Most likely it will come from coal fired stations using existing dirty technology.

In SA we have a very efficient gas fuelled station in mothballs; its CO2 output would be much less that the equivalent power supplied over the interconnectors.
Even after receiving a considerable personal income from involvement with wind farm associated projects I am yet to be convinced that they are viable as a major portion of a power supply system.
I can see that in the future there will be significant changes in the design and management of power distribution and transmission networks. Individuals may "go it alone" off the grid but that option is not available to many domestic consumers nor commercial, civic and industrial consumers.

What the space.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

We need to remember that power supplied over the interconnectors is unlikely to be green. Most likely it will come from coal fired stations using existing dirty technology.

In SA we have a very efficient gas fuelled station in mothballs; its CO2 output would be much less that the equivalent power supplied over the interconnectors.
Even after receiving a considerable personal income from involvement with wind farm associated projects I am yet to be convinced that they are viable as a major portion of a power supply system.
I can see that in the future there will be significant changes in the design and management of power distribution and transmission networks. Individuals may "go it alone" off the grid but that option is not available to many domestic consumers nor commercial, civic and industrial consumers.

What the space.
steam4ian
Having been directly involved in construction of several themal stations ( a fair while ago - nothing has happened on this front for decades), I chuckle at those who claim there are jobs galore in building renewables. Couple of years ago helped put together a tender response for a wind plant in SE QLD (feasability study - never proceeded). Would have been well less a tenth of the jobs of a thermal station prorata on size. All the gear was fully imported. Concrete in footings would have been the only Aus content. Was this your expereince Steam4Ian?
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Smacks

Most electrical technology in Australia is now imported, some even from our little cousin New Zealand.

On wind farms in SA many of the towers have been locally made, the old Islington works was used for this purpose.

Potentially HV cable is still made in Australia as could be some of the transformers.

The nacelles and switchgear would definitely be imported.

Renewable ventures do not generate significant on-going jobs; not much more than just mowing the grass.

The idea of renewable energy ventures providing employment to Australians is a smoke screen (metaphor chosen deliberately)
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
The idea of renewable energy ventures providing employment to Australians is a smoke screen (metaphor chosen deliberately)
steam4ian
This would apply to most new industries and 'innovation' in Australia these days not just renewable energy.

However, if digging dirt out of the ground and burning it is what turns people on then by all means go for it it.

On a more serious note I noticed a whole heap of what looked like 'poles' for wind turbines dockisde at Port Adelaide the other day - another bit of manufacturing gone overseas.
  Smacks Station Master

Smacks

Most electrical technology in Australia is now imported, some even from our little cousin New Zealand.

On wind farms in SA many of the towers have been locally made, the old Islington works was used for this purpose.

Potentially HV cable is still made in Australia as could be some of the transformers.

The nacelles and switchgear would definitely be imported.

Renewable ventures do not generate significant on-going jobs; not much more than just mowing the grass.

The idea of renewable energy ventures providing employment to Australians is a smoke screen (metaphor chosen deliberately)
"steam4ian"


Did I say anything about renewables providing jobs? That's certainly not what I meant to say.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

It has happened.
NEM Watch is showing NO brown coal generated power in SA. Yesterday it was showing 200MW of brown coal sourced generation, about one Northern unit at 80%, today nothing. Gas burn has increased to compensate.

Wait for the brown outs, load shedding and blackouts!

Ian
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

It has happened.
NEM Watch is showing NO brown coal generated power in SA. Yesterday it was showing 200MW of brown coal sourced generation, about one Northern unit at 80%, today nothing. Gas burn has increased to compensate.

Wait for the brown outs, load shedding and blackouts!

Ian
  Bob K Station Master

Location: East of Port Pirie
According to the local ABC, the power station at Pt Augusta commenced its shutdown of the Northern unit at 9.30am SA time and was disconnected from the grid at 9.40am
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Sorry guys, I get emotional about this.
First day without coal fired power and the wind farms can only produce 384MW out of their almost 1500MW capacity. Reason too much wind.

At one stage even the diesel generators kicked in.


SA in sinking, the first place to be able to build submarines under water.



Ian
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Sorry guys, I get emotional about this.
First day without coal fired power and the wind farms can only produce 384MW out of their almost 1500MW capacity. Reason too much wind.

At one stage even the diesel generators kicked in.


SA in sinking, the first place to be able to build submarines under water.



Ian
steam4ian
Can we offer to run coal trains from the Latrobe Valley to Stirling North. Rolling Eyes
Sorry about:
  • The break of gauge
  • No wagons
  • No locos
  • Dealing with Metro
  • No crews
  • No paths
  • No will
  • No interest
  • No bloody nothing

Don't pull up the North Line yet.................!!
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Sorry guys, I get emotional about this.
First day without coal fired power and the wind farms can only produce 384MW out of their almost 1500MW capacity. Reason too much wind.

At one stage even the diesel generators kicked in.


SA in sinking, the first place to be able to build submarines under water.



Ian
steam4ian
I wonder if anyone will see the irony in this post?

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