Powering Australia: Keeping the Lights On Means Coal-Fired Power For Generations to Come

Australia is in the process of destroying what was the world’s most reliable and affordable power supply. The destruction is all down to heavily subsidised and chaotically intermittent wind and solar.

Meanwhile, our major Asian trading partners, China and Japan are chewing up Australian coal and uranium as fast as we can ship it – and building hundreds of new plants to use our high-grade thermal coal: Full-Steam Ahead: China & Japan Snub Intermittent Wind & Solar to Build Hundreds of New-Age Coal-Fired Plants

That a country once renowned as an affordable energy superpower is throttling itself to death with a cocktail of suicidal renewable energy policies, is not just ironic, it is flat out criminal.

Tens of thousands of blue-collar jobs in mining, mineral processing and manufacturing have already been destroyed by rocketing power prices; and tens of thousands more remain under threat. Once lost, those jobs will never return. And all that economic damage and household suffering is, of course, utterly pointless.

The latter point is not lost on NSW Nationals Senator, John Williams.

We fiddle, our coal burns across the globe
The Australian
John Williams
23 October 2018

Debate about coal-fired electricity and climate change has heated up recently with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report and people such as former Liberal leader John Hewson entering the debate on the side or renewables.

Take a look at the facts: Australia has 22 operating coal-fired generating plants of at least 30 megawatts capacity producing 128 million tonnes of CO2 annually, with no plans to construct any more.

Compare that with China, our biggest trading partner, which has more than 1000 coal-fired power generating plants operating to the same capacity and a further 130 under construction. These plants emit 4271 million tonnes of CO2. The 130 others due to come online will produce more CO2 than Australia produces. And yet so many people believe that we are going to change the world.

No, we don’t have a large tent over our country. We are part of the globe. India has 292 operating coal-fired plants and a further 41 under construction, emitting more than 1000 million tonnes of CO2.

Facts don’t lie — between 2016 and last year coal-fired generation in the Asia-Pacific region increased by 330 terawatt hours, contributing 66 per cent to increased electricity supply. That is the equivalent of 33 Hazelwoods. These power plants will burn coal, so the options are: do they burn the cleaner, more efficient, higher-energy coal from Australia or do they burn the second-rate, poorer quality coal from overseas that will put more CO2 emissions into the atmosphere?

This is the crazy scenario we are facing. Coal-fired power generators are being built around the world, but how many are being built in Australia? None. And worse still, we are actually shutting them down. Since Hazelwood shut, prices have doubled in Victoria and NSW, and increased by more than 70 per cent in South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. And to think that Australia is a country so rich in energy.

Australia is responsible for 1.3 per cent of the world’s emissions. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel told Senate estimates that reducing the world’s carbon emissions by 1.3 per cent (in other words, Australia’s contribution) would have almost no impact on the world’s climate. But we all know it will have an impact on our economy, our standard of living and the way we do business.

I’m a big supporter of renewable energy on one condition — it competes on a level playing field. The fact is, with renewable energy certificates at $80Mwh, one wind turbine will be paid a $700,000-a-year subsidy by those who are connected to the grid before a single watt of electricity is sold. Families, pensioners, supermarkets, engineering workshops, small businesses, big businesses — all will pay. This is a big advantage to renewable energy at a huge cost to consumers of electricity.

Another problem we face is that businesses will relocate overseas because of our energy costs, and the country they move to will actually put out more CO2 doing exactly the same job. We lose businesses, jobs and money — and the result is more CO2 emissions. Not a great idea in my book.

Face the facts. Along with China’s 130 coal-fired plants under construction, India has 41, Indonesia 20 and many other countries, including Japan, are doing similar.

We can achieve much more by looking after our farmland (the soil that has to grow our food for thousands of years) and increase the storage of carbon in our soils by good management. As Christine Jones, an expert in regenerative land management, has pointed out, if farmers balance the magnesium and calcium levels in our agricultural soils we can increase soil carbon. Do this over our 450 million hectares of land, increasing the soil carbon by 3 per cent, and that will neutralise our emissions by 100 per cent for ­almost a century.

This will achieve CO2 abatement and protect our food supply. That is a real solution — a win-win.

John Williams is a Nationals senator for NSW.
The Australian

Then there’s the matter of keeping the lights on this summer, and beyond. On that score, PM, Scott Morrison and his Energy Minister, Angus Taylor are facing the mother of all battles.

As more intermittent wind and solar is added to the grid, the risk of a total grid collapse mounts. The only way to avoid a complete and utter disaster is to keep every single coal-fired power plant up and running, while doing whatever it takes to build a whole lot more meaningful generation capacity, very quickly.

PM Scott Morrison weighs cheap loans for clean coal plants
The Australian
Joe Kelly
24 October 2018

Scott Morrison will seek advice on whether taxpayers’ money should provide discounted loans for new baseload power generation — ­including new clean coal plants — as he seeks to draw up a “pipeline” of potential projects to make electricity supply more reliable.

The Prime Minister will also introduce legislation this year empowering the Treasurer to divest the assets of major energy companies for price gouging and anti-competitive conduct on advice from the competition watchdog.

The measures are part of a package aimed at bringing down power prices after the Wentworth by-election opened up a new front in the Coalition’s civil war over ­climate policy, with some Liberal MPs attributing the seat’s loss to uncertainty over the government’s emissions-reduction ­policies.

“We want to see the electricity price come down,” Mr Morrison said. “We have a plan to achieve that and that plan is to get big energy companies under control.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor yesterday wrote to energy companies, convening a roundtable at which he will ask them to reduce power prices by January 1. The measures come ahead of the introduction of a “default market offer” against which energy retailers will be required to set their prices for small businesses and households — a move that will save some customers up to $832 a year but which was attacked by AGL on the basis it would reduce power ­investment. Mr Morrison also confirmed he had “always been open” to injecting more money into the Emissions Reduction Fund to bolster greenhouse gas reductions amid an internal push from moderate MPs concerned at a lack of action on climate change following the Wentworth by-election rout.

He said that “common sense and technology” would help Australia meet its Paris targets and warned that Labor’s 45 per cent emissions-reduction target “would have a bigger impact on household electricity prices than the carbon tax”.

Announcing new steps being taken by government, Mr Taylor yesterday revealed he had opened consultations on a new “design program” that would facilitate the entry of more dispatchable power into the energy system.

The consultation process will canvass a range of options that go further than the key recommendation of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission for the government to provide a backstop revenue guarantee for new baseload power entrants. The ACCC proposal would have seen the government entering into energy offtake agreements where it would become the “buyer of last resort” between years six and 15 for new generation projects.

The government will now examine other options, including whether it should provide concessional loans and enter into other ­financial contracts to help facilitate the entry of new baseload power generation into the system.

The consultation period will conclude on November 9.

In another departure from the approach recommended by the ACCC, Mr Taylor will look at ­extending government support to fund upgrades to existing power generators — a proposal which could capture AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power plant in the NSW Hunter Valley. Mr Morrison said yesterday the new measures could assist the construction of a new coal-fired power station “where it stacks up” and “where it meets all the requirements”.

Other projects eligible for government assistance could include renewable generation sources with physical or financial firming arrangements to remain consistent with the federal government’s technology-neutral approach.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten challenged the government today over its climate policy, asking why it had abandoned the national energy guarantee, which Labor says should now be revived.
The Australian

7 thoughts on “Powering Australia: Keeping the Lights On Means Coal-Fired Power For Generations to Come

  1. Why do the likes of Dr Karl K keep saying like on radio today that we don’t even need a thorium , hydrogen or any other kind of reactor because everything can be powered with 100% renewables?

  2. One thing I’ve noticed over the years working with Orientals. If a project fails to deliver the desired results, they change tactics and/or methodology until the proper results manifest. American politicians persist in performing the same erroneous methods and solutions, while expecting different results. American megalithic businesses also commit this foolishness. It is not because they are stupid, but that they have sold their souls (greed & power) to those who are bent on causing Americans to destroy themselves.

  3. Australia fiddles while its own coal burns…elsewhere. That’s exactly it, but what are its apparently confused leaders thinking to allow this to happen?

  4. If Angus Taylor was truely serious about power prices he would be pushing for the removal of the RET altogether-right now. Nothing will really change until this market distorting influence is removed. All other initiatives are just window dressing. Should be no probs for the ever cheaper ‘renewables’ that are desperate to show that they can compete on the level playing field.Yeah-right.

  5. It’s all too late Australia needs one new large base load coal fired power station in every state coming on line yesterday with another one to be commissioned within two years after the first one has been commissioned. Before any of the old coal fired power stations in Australia are closed a new coal fired base load station needs to be commissioned.to replace it.

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