BETTER BET: Renewable energy will more reliable than coal and gas in extreme temperatures, experts say.
BETTER BET: Renewable energy will more reliable than coal and gas in extreme temperatures, experts say. Mackenzie Colahan

Fossil fuels fail 130 times due to extreme heat

COAL and gas plants broke down more than 130 times last year and it will only get worse as extreme temperatures become the "new normal", experts warn.

The Australia Institute's Gas and Coal Watch found in a report released this week coal and gas plants throughout the country broke down an average of every two days last year, with NSW and Queensland's black coal plants the single largest source of breakdown in the nation.

Liddell and Gladstone power plants topped the charts with 11 and 14 breakdowns respectively.

The report comes just days after Sydney sweltered through extreme heat last week which saw units broken across three major coal plants.

The Australia Institute's director of climate and energy program Richie Merzian said people tend not to think of coal and gas as unreliable.

"That's because we are always getting power from our power sockets. But under extreme hear conditions, coal and gas are particularly vulnerable to breaking down," he said.

"With climate change, these exceptional circumstances are happening a lot more regularly, this is becoming the new normal.

"When it's extremely hot, that is when you have peak demand because everyone is turning their air conditioners on. That is when you need reliability most, that's when solar delivers."

Mr Merzian said the more than two million Australian homes using solar were fundamental in easing pressure from the grid and preventing further blackouts this summer.

"Those homes reduced peak demand a huge amount, the more solar, the less demand on the grid," he said.

Climate action groups are calling on the NSW Government to make more investment in renewable energy a top priority in the upcoming election.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific, the Nature Conservation Council and Solar Citizens have rallied together to call parties to move toward 100 per cent renewable government operations, including public schools and hospitals, and providing all family homes access to solar via rebates.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific NSW Campaign Manager Holly Dawson said: "Premier Gladys Berejiklian has an opportunity to decisively turn the page on the Abbott era, and to put the Liberal Party - and NSW - on a responsible pathway to a future powered by clean, affordable and reliable electricity."

"The Berejiklian Government has been trying to reassure voters that it is different to its chaotic counterpart in Canberra. Well, now it has the chance to make that real by legislating the clean-energy policies the people of NSW want and need."