A leading energy firm has announced plans to close a major Victorian coal plant four years earlier than originally planned and build the world’s biggest battery.

In its latest announcement, EnergyAustralia said it would move forward the date at which it plans to retire its Yallourn Power Plant in the LaTrobe Valley by four years from 2032 until 2028.

In its place, the company plans to construct a battery which it says will be larger than any in operation anywhere in the world today.

Originally constructed as a series of six brown coal-fired thermal power stations built progressively from the 1920s to the 1960s, the Yallourn Power Station is located in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley east of Melbourne and is the second larges power station in Victoria.

Whilst five of the six original plants have been decommissioned, the remaining one has about 1,450 megawatts of capacity and currently supplies around 20 percent of Victoria’s power demand and about eight percent of power to the National Electricity Market.

Costing between $200 million and $300 million annually to operate and maintain, it currently employs around 500 permanent workers at the station and on its adjacent mine site – a number which increases to around 1,000 for three to four months of the year to handle major unit outages.

Originally scheduled to be retired in 2032, the remaining plant will now be retired in 20268.

Meanwhile, the company has announced plans to build a 350 MW battery which it says will be ‘larger than any battery operating in the world today’ and will serve as Australia’s first four-hour battery.

The battery will be located within the Yarra Valley and will be complete by 2026.

Announcing its plans, Energy Australia said the moves would reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide by over 60 percent relative to today and were part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2050.

A $10 million support package will be provided to support the station’s workforce.

Announcing its plans, Energy Australia acknowledged the role which the Yallourn plant has played during ‘decades of faithful service’ but said the moves would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent and reflected part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2050.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, said the company approached the Victorian Government with the plan to retire Yallourn and transition to cleaner energy in a way that does not leave the workforce or the community behind.

“The energy transition is too important to leave to chance – a plan that supports people, the Latrobe Valley and locks in energy storage capacity before Yallourn retires will ensure the smoothest transition possible,” Tanna said.

“Our $10 million support package, coupled with seven years’ advance notice, means our power station and mine site people will have time to plan, reskill or retrain.”

“EnergyAustralia is determined to demonstrate that coal-fired power can exit the market in a way that supports our people and ensures customers continue to receive reliable energy.

“Meanwhile, our new battery will help to secure Victoria’s energy supply and enable more renewables to enter the system. It would be larger than any battery operating in the world today.”

Victorian Energy Minister lily D’Ambrosio acknowledged the challenges which the announcement will present for workers but added that the announcement will demonstrates the need for the state’s energy sector to transition to cleaner energy sources.

“Nothing about today’s announcement from EnergyAustralia will be easy for the workers that have powered Victoria at Yallourn for generations,” Ambrosio said.

“The truth is we’re seeing these old, coal fired power stations creaking to a stop right around the world as countries and companies are switching to new, clean, more reliable and more efficient forms of energy.

“We can’t ignore that change or pretend it’s not happening – and we owe it to these workers to build a modern energy network that creates and supports thousands of Victorian jobs.”