If Australians Want Reliable & Affordable Electricity: It’s Coal-Fired Power or Nothing

The debate surrounding Australia’s energy crisis is occupied by two camps: deluded zealots and pragmatic realists.

STT sits with the latter: we couldn’t care less whether electricity was generated using doggie doo, provided it’s available and affordable, to all-comers.

Australia, as the world’s third largest exporter of uranium, ought to be throwing its money and muscle behind nuclear power generation. Alas, a band of intellectual infants conspired to place legislative bans (both state and federal) on nuclear power.

While gas provides a reasonable fuel-source for reliable power generation, Australia suffers a domestic shortage and, in power-generation, the supplies are generally reserved for the operation of highly-inefficient and expensive to run Open Cycle Gas Turbines. In this wind and solar obsessed country, OCGTs and even less efficient diesel generators are used to plug the gaps caused by tricky little issues like sunset and calm weather (see above).

Which leaves coal as the only cheap and readily available fuel source, that’s capable of powering Australia 24 x 365.

The cult that promotes wind and solar keep telling us that the days of coal are over. Indeed, the more deluded claim that coal is already dead.

Except that around 80% of Australia’s electricity is generated using coal and, elsewhere, the rush is on to build hundreds of coal-fired power plants: because the power they produce is cheap and they work.

Nats want wholesale price cap as part of national energy guarantee
The Australian
Joe Kelly
22 June 2018

Coalition MPs are urging Malcolm Turnbull to intervene in the energy market as they sound the alarm on the ability of the national energy guarantee to win support in the regions or reduce power bills for businesses.

Concerns are mounting within the Nationals over whether the updated design work on the government’s signature energy policy is flawed, overly complex and misguided in its plan to shift the burden of reliability in electricity supply to the nation’s biggest ­customers.

Those MPs behind the push are seeking to engage with Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg to win key concessions from the government to establish a stronger consensus on energy policy and are also keen to distance themselves from Tony Abbott’s threat to cross the floor on the policy.

They are urging the government to cap the wholesale electricity price, suggesting this can be achieved by using the “corporations power” under the Constitution, while other options in relation to coal-fired power have also been discussed.

Keith Pitt, the Assistant Minister to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, told The Australian the demand-management obligation proposed for the nation’s 100 biggest energy users was concerning.

“If we want to attract business here it will be difficult if we are to tell them that their electricity supply can’t be guaranteed and potentially they might have to source their own if the network can’t be relied on,” he said. “The key is what generators are reliable consistently 24/7 — and the answer is coal, gas and hydro.”

NSW Nationals MP Andrew Gee told The Australian the “main game here is price”, warning the government against getting “caught up in theoretical games” over the NEG.

“The NEG is like a box with two dials on it. One dial is reliability and one is emissions. The missing dial is price,” he said.

“People see this abstract theoretical argument about energy being conducted by politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats like it’s happening in a bubble, when what I believe most want is lower power prices.”

Mr Gee said consideration should be given to the “federal government intervening in the electricity market by capping the wholesale price of electricity”.

NSW Nationals senator John Williams told The Australian it was a “farce” that a country like Australia, “wallowing in coal, uranium and gas”, should be saddled with the highest “electricity prices of OECD countries”.

“Prices must come down to keep industry here in Australia and to return to a standard of ­living that people demand in this country, which is affordable ­electricity,” Senator Williams said.

The Nationals’ campaign came as the pro-coal group of Coalition MPs in the Monash Forum kept up the pressure on the government by releasing the first of its “fact sheets” outlining the number of coal-fired power stations across the globe.

The fact sheet being distributed to colleagues states there are 467 individual power-generating units at coal-fired stations in 35 nations currently under construction and a further 903 units in the planning stage across 50 countries.

According to the document, China tops the list for the most new units at coal-fired power stations under construction with 220 being built and 266 being planned.
The Australian

H-E-L-E spells V-O-T-E-S


As Australia’s gormless Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg attempts to hoodwink his fellow Liberals and Nationals about the purported benefits of his limp-wristed version of the National Energy Guarantee, a solid rump of realists has called his bluff.

The Monash Forum, headed up by NSW’s Craig Kelly isn’t having a bar of Frydenberg’s attempts to assist his mates in the wind and solar sector, by setting up a NEG that would end up as the Renewable Energy Target on steroids.

Instead, Kelly and his gang are rattling the cages of renewables rent-seekers and Frydenberg, by targeting the lunacy of attempting to run on sunshine and breezes, and pointing out the coal-hard facts about power generation in this country, and elsewhere.

Monash Forum MPs release coal ‘fact sheets’
The Australian
Joe Kelly
21 June 2018

The pro-coal group of Coalition MPs in the Monash Forum are keeping up the pressure on the government on energy policy by releasing the first of their “fact sheets” outlining the number of new coal-fired power stations across the globe.

The fact sheet being distributed to colleagues states there are 467 individual power generating units at coal-fired stations in 35 nations that are currently under construction and a further 903 units in the planning stage across 50 countries.

It lists the top 10 nations in terms of their adoption of new coal-fired power plants. But it also notes that new coal-fired power plants were being built in Botswana, Mongolia, Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, Poland, Taiwan, Colombia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, South Korea, Germany, Greece, Morocco, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Senegal, Iran, Panama and Jordan.

According to the one-page document — which will also be posted to the social media accounts of Monash Forum MPs — China tops the list for the most new units at coal-fired power stations under construction with 220 being built and a further 266 being planned.

China is followed by India which has 77 power units at coal-fired electricity stations under construction and a further 116 being planned, with Indonesia taking out third spot with 35 new units under construction and 99 being planned.

Vietnam is fourth on the list with 21 being built and 69 in planning.

Other nations to feature in the top ten nations include: Turkey, Philippines, Bangladesh, Japan, Pakistan and South Africa.

The Monash Forum is planning to release several documents, including up to two more fact sheets next week, that will eventually be compiled into a glossy brochure.
The Australian

A long way to run.


Having access to reliable and affordable electricity is fundamental to a decent, orderly and civil society.

The fastest way to drag an economy out of poverty is to power it up and, as the numbers laid out above and below make plain, the fastest way of introducing electricity to those that do not have it, is by building fleets of coal-fired plant.

One of the fastest-growing economies in our region is Indonesia. It has abundant supplies of coal, which it is using to fuel that growth, with 35 plants in construction and a further 99 planned. Its success is no accident: eradicating poverty starts with cheap and always available energy.

Here’s Queensland Nationals Senator, Matt Canavan laying out the kind of facts that send wind and sun worshippers into apoplexy.

The death of coal power is greatly exaggerated in certain quarters
The Australian
Matt Canavan
20 June 2018

When the Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley shut down last year, the Australian Conservation Foundation claimed its closure was a signal “the era of polluting coal is coming to an end”.

In its last full year of operation, Hazelwood generated 10 terawatt hours of power. In the past year, global electricity production has ­increased by 590 terawatt hours, almost half of this rise coming through the greater use of coal. In effect, in just one year, the equivalent of almost 30 Hazelwoods has been brought online. So much for an end to the era of coal.

Last week BP released its ­respected Statistical Review of World Energy. It showed a resur­gence in the growth of coal-fired power after a few years of moderate decline. These earlier declines had been heralded as the death of coal but those claims have been shown up for the exaggerations they were.

This year opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler claimed “there is a clear structural shift under way in the global thermal coal market”. Numbers have never been Labor’s strong suit but this takes doublespeak to a new level. Far from structural decline, last year coal-fired power set a record for supply at 9724 terawatt hours. Coal-fired electricity has risen by 62 per cent since 2000. It has been the fastest increase in coal use on record.

These increases are the result of continued investment in coal-fired power stations. China has built the equivalent of 60 Hazelwood coal-fired power stations in five years. That’s equal to a new coal power plant opening every month in China for five years.

The construction of these coal-fired power plants will underpin the demand for coal for decades to come as the typical life of a coal-fired plant is 50 years. Continuing strong demand for coal will help support our terms of trade, our prosperity and employment in our mining sector.

While Australia is the largest exporter of coal, we are not a major producer. We produce just 4 per cent of the world’s coal. We produce a high-quality product that helps increase the performance of coal-fired power stations. This performance boost is even greater in new coal-fired power stations, so the demand outlook for our coal is strong. The buoyant coal market makes it likelier that the Galilee Basin will open up and the Adani Carmichael coalmine (the first in the Galilee) will start. ­

Financial analyst Wood Mac­kenzie estimates that the cost of coal from the Adani coalmine will be about $US40 a tonne. The present coal price is more than $US100 a tonne, so there is a strong commercial rationale to develop these supplies.

That would be great news for Australia. The Galilee would be the first major, new coal basin opened for more than 50 years. There are five other proposed mines in addition to Adani’s and altogether they would create more than 16,000 jobs.

Higher prices reflect that coal is valued by the customer. Coal provides reliable and affordable energy and helps support the economic development of impoverished nations. It is good that Australia becomes more prosperous from the sale of coal. We do so because that sale creates value in another country.

If you value the reduction of poverty and the economic development of poorer nations, the greater use of coal is good. As coal use has increased by more than six times in Asia, poverty (as measured by those living on less than $1.90 a day) has been slashed by 95 per cent.

I hope that world poverty continues to fall. To do that, energy use in poor countries will have to rise and it is almost certain that ­affordable coal-fired power will be part of the equation.

At the very least, poor countries should not have rich countries hypocritically lecture them that they should not use coal. Those same rich countries often are wealthy thanks to their own use of coal.

The use of Australian coal benefits the world because it is cleaner and more efficient, and helps pro­mote economic development, lift­ing millions from poverty. The era of coal is far from nearing an end.
The Australian

The path from this to prosperity is paved with coal.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Crispin says:

    Every time the Greens, Friends of the Earth, 350.org, etc push the message to go 100% Renewables and stop all fossil fuels, they are missing an opportunity to lower emissions by building new technology HELE coal plants. In addition to this, the opportunity is also being missed to police existing coal fired power stations. Building new lower emission coal technology will lead to the closure of old coal technology. Surely this has to be a step in the right direction.

    Renewables, or ‘disruptive technologies’ as Environment Victoria calls them, are simply not up to the job. And they are disruptive for all the wrong reasons. If the technology improves over time, then and only then is when it should be considered. Wind farms are a scam, and have a massive environmental footprint for so little gain, other than financial reward.

    If the challenge is to cut emissions, then new generation nuclear, HELE, gas and hydro are the only serious options currently available. A new nuclear plant could last for 60 years. This is exactly the sort of time scale in which to develop ‘non disruptive’ zero emission grid scale energy production with a small environmental footprint.

    In the meantime, we should be saving forests and planting more trees as a precautionary approach against climate change. We should also continue to support projects like the Green Army, which is about to be shut down on 30th June.

    In addition to this, we should also be developing greater fire fighting capabilities to put a fire out, whatever the scale. Fire fighters need new technological tools to fight fires and save lives. This will also help to control and protect forests from extensive bush fires and limit pollution from smoke.

  2. Weasels 2 Go says:

    The politicians’ handbook states:

    1) the problem is never the problem;

    2) look elsewhere;

    3) what you have to find is a solution that is complicated and
    not relevant to the real or to the false problem.

    The conclusion is the public will accept the right solution to the wrong problem and the Minister can move on.

    Sound like wind power?

    Here is how to fix the real problems of renewables:

    1) reduce the subsidies by one third over each of the next 3 years;

    2) limit the renewables right of first entry to the grid to 10% of total power needed the rest has to be accepted on price only.

  3. wal1957 says:

    MP Andrew Gee…. “The NEG is like a box with two dials on it. One dial is reliability and one is emissions. The missing dial is price,” he said.

    “People see this abstract theoretical argument about energy being conducted by politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats like it’s happening in a bubble, when what I believe most want is lower power prices.”

    I will agree that price is very important. However, what he has not said is that most people are unaware of the variability, and unreliability of renewable energy power output. When the populace have to endure a couple of blackouts they will start to wake up to the fact that renewables can not deliver power 24/7. That is when the politicians in this country may well have people marching in the streets.

    The Pollies created this energy mess. More regulations, subsidies or pagan sacrifices are not going to fix it.
    Coal or nuclear appear to be our only 2 options which can provide reliable baseload power, 24/7, 365 days every year.

    I hope the Monash Forum pushes real, real hard!

    • C. Paul Barreira says:

      “When the populace have to endure a couple of blackouts they will start to wake up to the fact that renewables can not deliver power 24/7.”

      From personal experience of just such blackouts in South Australia nothing suggests that the public has begun to “wake up”. South Australia is a parasite state, dependent upon other states and banks (per mortgages) for much of its income as well as electricity. Little, in any permanent sense, seems to have changed since 1842, when, foolishly, House of Commons paid Gawler’s bills.

    • I’d like to think you’re right Wal, however there’s little profit in coal and comparatively large profits in wind and solar. Where would you put your PR dollars when the electricity supply goes belly up: accepting blame for the problem, or heaping scorn on the inability of coal and gas to provide sufficient electricity to make up the shortfall and thereby intimating a need for greater commitment to wind and solar? Turnbull and Frydenberg aren’t suddenly going to change direction and they have the headlines. The Monash forum? It’ll be marketed as a group of grumpy has-beens who don’t want to change.

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