Australia Plugs Back Into Coal to Avoid Power Blackouts


Australia has resorted to firing up its coal reserves to avoid blackouts, as the electrical grid buckles under increased winter demand and power stations going offline for maintenance and repair.

More than 1,900 megawatts (MW) of capacity have been put back on line since Wednesday, the industry group that represents generators said on Friday, easing power outage risks but increasing the country’s reliance on coal.

Eastern Australia has faced a power crisis since mid-May as about 25% of the market’s 23,000 MW of coal-fired capacity was offline for maintenance or due to unplanned outages.

Flooding earlier this year hit some coal mines in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, and technical issues have curbed output from mines that supply the market’s biggest coal-fired plant, the Eraring power station owned by Origin Energy.

“We are pleased to note that since Wednesday we have seen the return to service of some 1,900 MW previously under maintenance,” the Australian Energy Council said in a statement.


Switch Off Lights, NSW Told

On Thursday, the NSW state government urged households to switch off lights in the evening to avert blackouts, as the country’s power market remained suspended with more than a quarter of its fossil fuel-fired capacity knocked out.

The country’s energy market operator suspended the electricity spot market on Wednesday in an unprecedented move to secure power supplies, its latest drastic step to tackle an energy crisis that began in May.

Efforts were focused on reviving output from coal-fired generators, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said on Thursday.

Coal is Australia’s largest energy resource, according to Geoscience Australia, a government agency. Australia is the fifth largest producer of coal and has the third largest reserves of coal in the world.

The coal industry employs more than 30,000 Australians, mainly in rural areas and remains the country’s second-biggest export, accounting for A$39 billion in 2021. Only Indonesia sells more.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell




BHP to Keep Australian Coal Mine After No Bids Received

Indonesian Bill Seeks to Classify Coal Products as ‘New Energy’

China’s Purchases of Russian Oil, Coal Jump to Near-Record Levels




George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

Recent Posts

HSBC Accused of Overstating Risks of Asia Unit Break-Off

A source close to the Chinese insurer, which pushed for the Asia business spin-off, say…

23 mins ago

US Reassessing China Tariffs After Harsh Taiwan Response

Biden's team is divided on whether to drop or expand tariffs imposed by Trump on…

4 hours ago

Asia Stocks Rally as US Inflation Eases Rate Hikes Fears

Asian shares pushed higher on Thursday as investors bet on the pace of interest rate…

5 hours ago

China Leads the US on Scientific Research Papers – Guardian

Chinese scientific research accounts for almost a quarter of the world's output, the report said,…

5 hours ago

Bangladesh Minister Warns on China’s Belt and Road Loans – FT

Developing countries should think twice before taking loans via China's Belt and Road scheme given…

5 hours ago

India Shares Hit Four-Month High, Banks and Tech Lead

"The optimism came on the back of a US consumer inflation rate that eased in…

6 hours ago