Hazelwood Coal Power Station, in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia is a brown coal fueled base-load power station built between 1964 and 1971. The coal power station is of 1,600 megawatt (1,470 net) capacity, and supplies up to 25% of Victoria's base load electricity and more than 5% of Australia's total energy demand. The station was listed as the least carbon efficient power station in the world in a 2005 report by WWF Australia.

International Power purchased Hazelwood from the State Government in 1996 with a 40 year life. The Bracks Labor Government subsequently approved an environmental effects statement in 2005 that allowed Hazelwood to move a road and a river to access the coal allocated to Hazelwood at the time of sale.

Hazelwood directly employs 540 people and at least another 300 contractors, with hundreds more employed during major outages.

In late 2008, the owners of Hazelwood, International Power, said the financial viability of the power station would be in question under an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), unless the company received significant compensation.


Hazelwood Coal Power Station and associated mine were privatised by the Kennett government in 1996. It was sold for $2.35 billion, and it operates as 'International Power Hazelwood' (IPRH), an Australian public company, which is owned by UK company, International Power plc (91.8% share) and the Commonwealth Bank Group (the remaining 8.2%). The business office is near Morwell, 150 kilometres east of Melbourne. Prior to January 2003, International Power Hazelwood was known as Hazelwood Power.

Privatisation resulted in new capital investment, with $800 million invested in Hazelwood since 1996, such as replacement of boilers, rotors, turbines and the completion of an $85 million project to reduce dust emissions by 80%.

If Hazelwood had not been sold to private interests, activist groups say the SEC (State Electricity Commission) would have shut the station down in 2005.

Coal supply

Hazelwood relies on brown coal deposits from the nearby Morwell open cut mine. In 2003, 17.2 million tonnes of coal was excavated by International Power Hazelwood for use by the plant which generated 12,000 gigawatt-hours. The company supplied a further 1.6 million tonnes of coal to Energy Brix Australia.

EES Approval

Before privatisation the Hazelwood Coal Power Station was due to be decommissioned by the SECV by 2005, as had older plants at Newport and Yallourn. However Hazelwood had its mining licence realigned by the Victorian Government along with EES approvals to move a river and a road on 6 September 2005. This agreement ensures security of coal supply to the plant until at least 2030 by allowing access to 43 million tonnes of brown coal deposits in a realignment of Hazelwood's mining licence boundaries that were originally set in 1996. Hazelwood returned over 160 million tonnes of coal to the State Government as part of the agreement.

The agreement requires Hazelwood to reduce its estimated emissions by 34 million tonnes and caps its total greenhouse output at 445 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its life, after which point it may be made to cease operation. However credits for investment in renewable energy and low emission technology will allow the business to operate within the cap and extend its life.

Hazelwood's West Field development involved completing a new 7.5 km section of the Strzelecki Highway, replacing over ten kilometres of the Morwell River from an old concrete pipe into a natural open channel riverine setting, and acquiring privately owned land which was earmarked for future coal supply. Despite the clear improvements to local river health, energy security and the rights of a private business to access its own coal supply, activist green groups, including Environment Victoria, Greenpeace and Australian Conservation Foundation opposed the development approvals, while business groups such as Minerals Council of Australia, VECCI, Aust Industry Group and Institute of Public Affairs welcomed the Government's decision.

Bio-Algae trial

A trial algae photobioreactor plant was established at Hazelwood in the early 2000s by Energetix, a division of the Victor Smorgon Group. The plant houses algae that feed on emissions from the smoke stacks, which are then harvested and turned into biofuels. The technology Hazelwood is using was developed at MIT and is licensed from Greenfuels. The trial was successful and has now concluded. Commercial application of the technology could see over 1000 hectares of photobioreactors be built which will turn 5% of Hazelwood's emissions into biofuels.


The Hazelwood Coal Power Station would not have had access to its purchased coal from 2009 unless approvals to move road and river infrastructure were granted under the 2005 West Field EES process. The Labor Government approved the EES in 2005 so IPRH could access its coal reserves and operate its business until 2031. However, there is major support for the decommission of the facility.

CO2 emissions

The Hazelwood Coal Power Station was listed as the least carbon efficient power station in the world in a 2005 report by WWF Australia. The WWF reported that the power station produced 1.58 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated in 2004 (official result was 1.55), which was a significant reduction of 6.6% from the 1996 levels of 1.66 Mt/TWh when the plant was privatised. This CO2 per megawatt-hour reduction is now over 10% based on performance to 2009.

With a 60% increase in power generation since 1996, Hazelwood now averages up to 16.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year (the second highest emitter in the Latrobe Valley), which is 3 % of Australia's total carbon dioxide emissions, and 9 % of Australia's total CO2 from electricity generation.

Australia's biggest carbon capture pilot plant, and one of the largest of its type in the world,[14] has been built at Hazelwood capturing up to 25 tonnes, or 0.05%, of CO2 per day.

Water usage

1.31 megalitres of water was consumed per gigawatt hour of power generated in 2005. Cooling water for the power station is supplied by the Hazelwood Pondage, built for this purpose in the 1960s. The pondage is supplied with water from the Moondarra Reservoir and runoff pumped from the adjacent mine. At the mine, water is sprayed onto the coal to reduce the chance of fire and to suppress dust.

Public access to the pondage is permitted for sailing, boating and other recreational water sports. Cichlids and other tropical fish that were released into the lake by the public have established populations, including Convict cichlids (Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus) and the African cichlid spotted tilapia (Tilapia mariae). Other fish include carp, goldfish (Carassius auratus), Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki), and the native short-finned eel (Anguilla australis) and Australian smelt (Retropinna semoni).


In a 2007-2008 report, the National Pollutant Inventory rated the power station's polychlorinated dioxins and furans as "high 100", hydrochloric acid as "high 87", oxides of nitrogen as "medium 57", particulate matter 2.5 μm as "low 21", and boron & compounds as "low 15".

2005-2006 NPI data showed that Hazelwood releases 100,000 kg of boron and compounds into the air and 5,200 kg into water. Also released into the air: 7,700,000 kg hydrochloric acid, 27,000,000 kg of oxides of nitrogen, 2,900,000 kg of particulate matter 10 μm, and 0.015 kg of polychlorinated dioxins and furans.

Many pollutants are not measured.

Carbon capture plant

In July, 2009, International Power opened a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant at Hazelwood power station. The process takes emissions from the power station smoke stacks, extracts CO2 and uses a chemical process to turn it into calcium carbonate. The resulting solid can then be stored above ground or sold to industry. This process will capture 25 tonnes or 0.05% of daily emmissions from the plant.

Hazelwood Coal Power Station
Country Australia
Locale Latrobe Valley, Victoria
Status Baseload
Commission date 1964
Owner(s) International Power Hazelwood

Power station information
Primary fuel Lignite
Generation units 8 x C A Parsons

Power generation information
Maximum capacity 1,600 MW