Sustainability Energy

World’s largest coal port to be completely powered with clean energy

This photo taken on April 25, 2012 shows coal being stockpiled at the coal port of Newcastle in Australia’s New South Wales state. AFP/ Stringer/ Getty

Story at a glance

  • The Port of Newcastle powers Australia’s national electricity market while executing trades worth billions of dollars every year.
  • In moving toward a carbon neutral operation, the port has converted 97 percent of its vehicles to electric and secured a 100 percent renewable energy contract for 90 percent of its own electricity usage.
  • Yet government data found that in 2021 coal remained the largest source of electricity generation, accounting for more than half of Australia’s electricity generation mix.

The world’s largest coal plant located in Australia declared it would be powered completely by renewable energy, part of a larger plan to decarbonize its business by 2040. 

The Port of Newcastle powers Australia’s national electricity market while executing trades worth billions of dollars every year. The port’s coal power generation has been falling, however, reaching its lowest level in the final three months of 2021, according to The Guardian. However, over the past few years the port has been making changes to decarbonize its business by 2040 and increase the non-coal portion of its business to 50 percent by 2030. 

Craig Carmody, CEO of Port of Newcastle, said his port’s title as the largest coal port in the world “isn’t as wonderful as it used to be,” and that a change was necessary to maintain some control over the business’ future. 

“We get 84 cents a ton (1,000 kilograms) for coal shipped through our port. We get between $6 and $8 for every other product. You can see where I’d rather have my money,” said Carmody to The Guardian. 


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Renewable energy use is growing in Australia, with 2021 data showing a 24 percent increase in renewables, up from 21 percent in 2020. Overall energy use also fell by just less than 3 percent in 2019-2020. 

In moving towards a carbon neutral operation, the Port of Newcastle has already converted 97 percent of its vehicles to electric and has secured a 100 percent renewable energy contract for 90 percent of its own electricity usage. 

However, the port still exports an average of 165 metric tonnes of coal a year, with coal accounting for more than half of Australia’s energy exports. According to the Australian government, the country’s coal exports are worth more than $40 billion. 

The country also has a poor track record when it comes to climate change policy, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying during the CO26 global climate summit last year that the coal industry will be working in Australia for, “decades to come,” according to CNBC. 

That’s evident in government data, which also found that in 2021 coal remained the largest source of electricity generation, accounting for more than half of Australia’s electricity generation mix. 

“Balance is the key. The energy system is changing at an unprecedented pace, which is why we need to get the energy balance right to ensure Australian households and businesses can continue to access the power they need to grow and prosper,” said Angus Taylor, Australia’s minister for energy and emission reduction. 


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