The Port of Newcastle in Australia aims to power its business entirely with green energy as electricity generation from coal power in the country drops to its lowest levels. 

The world’s largest coal port, the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, has announced the business will be powered 100% by renewable energy as part of its plan to decarbonise by 2040. 

The announcement comes just a few months after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the long-awaited pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and coal power generation in Australia’s national electricity market fell to its lowest level in the final three months of 2021 – dropping 5.9% compared to 2020. Gas also recorded its lowest quarter of generation since 2004. 

The business was once proud of its title as the world’s busiest coal export port, but is now keen to shed its title as the world transitions away from coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels and the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the port continues to export an average of 165Mt of coal annually, though it is seeking to expand and increase other revenue streams, so that coal will only make up half of the business’ revenue by the end of the decade, a move that could prove to be more financially attractive in the long run. 

“I would prefer to be doing this now while we have control over our destiny, while we have revenue coming in, than in a crisis situation where our revenue has collapsed and no one will lend us money,” the Chief executive officer of the Port of Newcastle Craig Carmody said to the Guardian

He continues: “We get 84 cents a tonne 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.”

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As part of the green transition, the port will switch 97% of its on-site cars to electric vehicles, as well as work on new infrastructure projects to help decarbonise its operations. As Newcastle is an “open access port”, the business will remain accepting coal export and traffic, but hope its decarbonisation action will help lead the way for its workforce and other companies to follow suit. 

“In some ways it doesn’t matter what the policies of government are, equities and debt markets, they’re making the decision for us,” adds Carmody. “It doesn’t matter what the policy settings are in Australia, it’s what some investor in New York or Tokyo is thinking.”

Featured image by: Geoff Whalan/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)