Singleton's idle Redbank power station maybe about to re-enter the electricity making business

With the expected closure of AGL's Liddell power station in early 2024 it has been reported Hunter Energy are keen to reopen the idle Redbank power station.

Redbank located on the Golden Highway near Warkworth hasn't produced any power since October 2014 when the plant closed leaving 39 full-time employees out of work and was placed in the hands of receivers Korda Mentha.

Prior to this it was operated by Redbank Energy and was fuelled by beneficiated dewatered tailings (BDT), or waste coal, from the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine.

Since its closure the plant has been the subject of various plans to reopen it and been bought and sold at considerably less than its reported more than $350 million construction costs.

Hunter Energy is described on its website as a group of experienced and successful energy industry executives and entrepreneurs who have acquired Redbank with the aim to focus on using fuel sources that provide a secondary benefit of using waste or non reusable products such as: coal tailings that would otherwise be dumped , waste mine gases waste wood products and refuse waste.

Hunter Energy will then integrate renewable energy such as grid solar and dispatchable technology such as grid batteries into its portfolio as the electricity transition continues.

Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) is urging the NSW government to reject Hunter Energy's proposal to recommission the defunct Redbank power station near Singleton in the Hunter Valley.

"Air pollution from coal-burning power stations and mines has caused an air pollution crisis in the Hunter Valley. Since Sunday this week, the NSW Government has issued fifteen air pollution alerts when the region's air pollution levels exceeded national standards," said Dr James Whelan, Researcher and Community Organiser, EJA.

"Replacing a clunky old coal-burning power station with an even clunkier old coal-burning power station would take the Hunter backwards and will impact adversely on community health," Dr Whelan said.

Fine particle pollution from coal-fired power stations causes 58 premature deaths, 43 low birth weight babies and 71 instances of type 2 diabetes each year in the Hunter region alone. The Bayswater and Liddell power stations are expected to cause 792 premature deaths before their closure.[1]

The Redbank Power Station started operating in 2000 but closed in 2014 after racking up close to $200 million in debt. Before its closure, Redbank was known for being Australia's dirtiest power plant per unit of electricity generated.

"The notion that a recommissioned Redbank power station would be less polluting than in the past is as ridiculous as the argument for 'clean coal'," Dr Whelan continued.

Each year it operated, Redbank reported emitting 2 million kilograms of sulfur dioxide, 460,000kg of oxides of nitrogen and 400,000kg of hydrochloric acid, along with significant quantities of mercury, lead, cyanide and sulfuric acid.

"When AGL sought approval to expand the generation capacity of its Bayswater power station near Singleton, both AGL and the NSW government rejected EJA's recommendations to install modern pollution controls that would reduce toxic emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by more than 85 percent.

"The Hunter community deserves better. NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean must reject this obnoxious proposal and instead focus on the urgent need for a just transition to clean energy in the Hunter region that reduces the health burden of air pollution on communities, keeps workers in jobs and ensures reliable energy supply.

Just this week EJA met with advisers to the NSW Environment and Energy Minister Matt Kean, urging the Minister to finalise a state-wide air pollution control strategy that hasn't progressed since a draft was released for public comment in 2016.