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Callide Outage 25 May

The fire at Callide C has caused chaos in Queensland’s electricity system. Both units of Callide C tripped just before 2pm, and caused such instability on the grid that all operating units at Callide B and Stanwell, as well as three units at Gladstone also tripped.

387 000 homes were without power, according to an Energex spokesperson. Queensland prices are expected to hit market price cap or close to it for hours tonight.

It’s a great relief that it appears no-one has been injured during this event, and worker safety must alway be paramount in such disasters, said Queensland Conservation Council Director, Dave Copeman

“This illustrates the devastating impact that relying on large, geographically concentrated thermal coal units can have, particularly as they age.

“The piece of infrastructure transmission operators most needed when this failure occurred was a large scale battery. It could have been delivering power to support the grid within seconds, and may have prevented the wider network failures.

“Queensland coal has been forced to operate more flexibly than it was designed to as solar has entered the market in recent years. This potentially makes units more vulnerable to failure. Even if this incident was unrelated, it still shows the potential disruption to Queensland’s electricity supply possible in future.

“Other Queensland coal plants were mostly unable to respond quickly, with the short fall in generation being met by gas and NSW imports in the hour after the incident. Building more large scale coal in central Queensland would not have prevented the load shedding.

Queensland’s coal fleet includes many coal stations approaching the end of their technical life. When Callide C was built in 2001, it was talked about as having a 25 year life span. It’s now 20 years old. Queenslanders want reliable cheap clean electricity. The best way to guarantee this is by investing in renewable energy and storage such as large batteries.

QCC is the state’s peak non-government environment group. We are making the case to Powerup Qld with a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy generation by 2030.

Interviews are available on request.