The former Redbank coal plant in NSW’s Hunter Valley will be repurposed into a biomass fuels power station, with owner Hunter Energy planning to start supplying energy into the national electricity grid by early next year.
Hunter Energy plans to reuse waste wood products to create a biomass facility with an output of 151MW, enough to power up to 200,000 homes, as it seeks to reboot the former Alinta-owned facility, which closed in 2014.
Although the company had previously held talks with neighbour Yancoal to reuse coal tailings from its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine, the project now plans to operate solely on biomass to qualify for the government’s large scale generation certificates.
In the commissioning phase of the project, some 265 jobs would be created, with 55 permanent roles. Hunter Energy chief executive Richard Poole, a former investment banker and director of Cascade Coal, said it would cost $50m to convert and restart the project, compared with $450m to replace the plant.
Redbank was reported to be the fifth most polluting coal station when it closed six years ago, but Mr Poole said the plant aimed to deliver baseload power at net zero emissions.
Bark, sawdust and straw were typical wood waste materials used and qualified as a carbon-neutral energy source, he said.