AGL Energy is to mothball one of the four units at the Torrens B gas generator in South Australia, as traditional fossil fuel generators struggle in the face of the rapid transition to wind and solar and the switch from baseload generation to flexible capacity.
AGL said falling spot and forward wholesale electricity prices and the increase in the supply of electricity from new generators – meaning new wind and solar projects – is creating “challenging conditions” for the Torrens B generator.
The 200MW unit will be mothballed in October, and follows the previous announced mothballing and definitive closure of the older Torrens A gas generators. In their place will come AGL’s first big battery and the recently commissioned Barker Inlet fast start gas generators.
The announcement is significant because it is yet another sign of the transition from Australia’s traditional fossil fuel baseload grid to one based on renewables and flexible capacity, including fast-start gas but increasingly other forms of storage such as batteries and pumped hydro.
South Australia closed its last coal generator in 2016 and is now witnessing a progressive shut down and mothballing of its remaining “baseload” or “intermediate” gas fleet, as the share of wind and solar reaches 60 per cent of local demand and heads towards the state Liberal government’s target of “net 100 per cent” by 2030.
[Michael Mazengarb and Giles Parkinson]