Save Our Jobs: Australia’s Economic Recovery Demands Reliable & Affordable Coal-Fired Power

Whatever policies are directed at recovering from the coronavirus lockdown, without reliable and affordable power Australia’s energy hungry businesses are doomed. With rocketing power prices, and an intermittent supply, mineral processors and manufacturers are terminal, and have been for years.

Politicians and academic boffins have been giving lip service to improving Australia’s “resilience” and “self-sufficiency”, resulting in the renaissance of Australian manufacturing and industry.

With Australian businesses suffering among world’s highest power prices (thanks to its obsession with intermittent wind and solar, South Australian households and businesses suffer the highest prices in the world), the rebirth of manufacturing and industry sounds like so much wishful thinking.

International supply chains may have ground to a halt and the orderly flow of goods to market disrupted, but, before too long China will regain its primacy as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse. Two factors are responsible for China’s dominance in that domain: a cheap and flexible labour supply; and a reliable and affordable power supply. The latter being generated by hundreds of coal-fired power plants, with more being added every day.

If Scott Morrison was even vaguely serious about improving the prospects for Australian businesses, he would be pushing for new coal-fired power plants in the short-term and nuclear power plants over the longer term. But, to date, the Morrison government has been a shining example of considered inertia on meaningful energy policy. The latest wheeze is turning heavily subsidised wind and solar power into hydrogen gas: Hydrogen Hoax: Wind & Solar Rent-Seekers Demand Subsidies To Convert Their Chaotic Power Into Gas

While the PM and his energy Minister, Angus Taylor are off with the fairies, there are, thankfully, one or two Coalition MPs with half a brain.

One of them, Matt Canavan, a Nationals Senator for Queensland, has gone on the offensive, spelling out the only pathway out of economic disaster: reliable and affordable coal-fired power.

The coal, hard fact is we must put jobs first in this economic climate
The Australian
Matt Canavan
27 May 2020

As the biblical saying goes, you can’t serve two masters. For a decade we have been trying to con ourselves we could. We thought you could serve the master of ­climate change and keep a strong manufacturing sector.

The data doesn’t lie. You can’t.

While we have reduced our emissions by 5 per cent (largely by making it illegal for farmers to clear their own land), our manufacturing industry has gone backwards for the first time. During the past decade Australian manufacturing has declined in real, absolute terms. The 1990s and 2000s were not boom times for manu­facturing but the sector still managed to grow by 10 per cent each decade. Since 2010, it has shrunk by 5 per cent.

During that time, our pursuit of climate change and renewable ­energy policies helped double the cost of energy, despite our abundant reserves. The COVID-19 pandemic shows what a mistake this has been.

Now everyone wants to secure our supply chains and start making things again. None of this talk will lead to renewed manufacturing strength, however, if we do not get serious about reducing energy costs. And to do that we need to make tough choices about what is important in a post-COVID, economically depressed world.

Talk of the immediate importance of reducing our small carbon footprint now sounds like a dis­cordant echo from a bygone era. With millions are out of work, and our major trade partner threatens our economic security, why would we continue to self-flagellate by imposing the additional costs of reducing carbon emissions for no environmental benefit?

China’s recent actions demonstrate beyond a doubt that there is no hope a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions will lead to any meaningful global action. If we can’t trust China to keep faith with a trade agreement signed just a few years ago, and can’t trust it to be upfront on the pandemic, how can we trust China to honour a global agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

I do not make these points to critique others. I made the mistakes too. I have been a supporter of the Paris Agreement because Australia has benefited from international agreements. But things have changed. With the need to secure our manufacturing industry and the clear breakdown of international co-operation, we must face the fact that era is over.

We should end our participation in the Paris Agreement, given the more immediate need to secure our manufacturing jobs. And we should rule out any moves to net-zero emissions or a future global agreement on carbon until other countries, much larger than us, demonstrate real reductions in their carbon emissions.

Our future targets continue to restrain our ability to make the tough choices to rebuild Australian manufacturing. Because of those targets, many are rushing to promote gas over coal. Gas in eastern Australia is not a pathway to globally competitive energy prices any time soon. The geology of our gas is not the lucrative shale seams from which the US has benefited.

At best we might hope to get the wellhead energy cost of Australian onshore gas down to $6 a gigajoule. That is still double the mining costs of most Australian black coal (and more than 10 times the cost of brown coalmining). It is also more than double the cost of US shale gas.

If we are not going to pursue and fight for the cheapest energy costs, then we are not serious about rebuilding an Australian manufacturing industry.

Some say the politics of building a coal-fired power station is too tough. I am a big supporter of gas developments but I drove to Canberra last week and I saw about 20 “no coal-seam gas” signs in western NSW. But I didn’t see a single “no coal” sign. Sure, lots of inner-city greenies oppose coal, but all politics is local. As last year’s federal election showed, if you have the locals supporting a project (such as Adani), that is a political fight you can win.

The political battle we should engage in is the one to return manufacturing jobs to Australia. To pursue naive policies that reduce our carbon emissions, regardless of what other countries are doing, hurts our ability to win that battle. To recover from this pandemic we must recognise that the era of rampant globalism is over and put Australian jobs first.
The Australian

Countries are ‘reverting back to economic nationalism’
Sky News
Andrew Bolt and Matt Canavan
27 May 2020

Nationals Senator Matt Canavan says “the world has changed” and he thinks Australia should withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement as “there doesn’t seem to be a lot in it for us”.

He said, “while China is not even honouring a trade agreement,” the nation is “tying ourselves down” by remaining within the agreement. “We’re increasingly seeing those agreements not being worth the paper they’re written on, including in the trade space,” he said.

“We are seeing countries revert back to a greater form of economic nationalism and we need to respond”.

US President Donald Trump had previously removed the United States’ support of the agreement saying the country’s continued participation would be bad for the economy.
Sky News

Transcript

Andrew Bolt: Mad story. Anyway, there’s another thing about China. Australia signed up to the Paris Agreement. This is, “We have to cut our emissions to save the world from dangerous global warming.” But under this deal China, which is actually the world’s biggest emitter, it doesn’t have to cut its own emissions because the story is it’s poorer than us, therefore we’ve got to give them a break. But this means, of course, that the Paris Agreement helps China relative to us. It hurts us and the rest of the world. We’re left with very high electricity prices because we keep having to get rid of giant coal-fired power stations like Hazelwood in Victoria, blown up a few days ago. And last week the Morrison government released a discussion paper on how we can get back to getting reliable and hopefully cheaper electricity again. The answer was more gas, apparently. Joining me is Matt Canavan, national Senator and former Resources Minister. Matt, great to catch up with you again. Is building more gas generators going to give this country the cheap electricity that we desperately need, particularly now to rebuild our economy.

Matt Canavan: No, it won’t, Andrew. It won’t because we don’t have cheap forms of gas in Eastern Australia. And I’m particularly talking about Eastern Australia. Western Australia doesn’t have quite the same issues on energy that we do over here in the East. They always say this is a big supporter of developing our gas resources. I think we should do that. And there are some uses for gas that you can’t substitute away from. To produce plastics, to produce certain types of oil products, you’ve got to have gas as the feed stock, no other source can replace that. So we should be developing our gas for those reasons and gas will be an important part of some types of electricity production, as well.

But there’s simple geology here, God given geology, which means we do not have the productive shale seams that exist in the United States. The gas that’s being exploited here in Eastern Australia is coal seam gas. By definition there’s no oil in a coal seam. Over in the U.S., they’re really going after the oil, not the gas. They go and put their rigs out to get the oil, and gas is a byproduct. And it’s very cheap because it’s a byproduct.

But here in Australia, we don’t have that flexibility. So the best estimates of our gas costs are about $6 a gigajoule. And that sounds like a lot of jargon, but basically that’s double the cost of the mining costs of coal … a little bit more than double for most of our coal mines, black coal … and over 10 times the cost of mining brown coal. And my view is, to be competitive as a manufacturing industry, again, here in Australia, to bring back manufacturing jobs in Australia, we can not afford to tie one arm behind our back. We already have high wages, but relatively strict regulations. We must invest in the cheapest form of energy to otherwise compete in manufacturing again.

Andrew Bolt: Well, I had Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister, on the show last week and he was saying, “Well, look. Take this way forward, they’re open to all technologies. They’re agnostic and they’re not ruling out coal.” But I have to say, I didn’t really see much “yes” in this discussion paper to coal unless it was hedged with all these things that you had to be … low emissions technology, which is vastly more expensive than the sort of coal fired power stations we’ve got now.

Matt Canavan: Yeah. I was disappointed, Andrew. It was an important document, lots of work put into it. They surveyed about a hundred technologies that lower emissions and coal wasn’t mentioned, even though there are proven technologies like high efficiency, low emission technologies, advanced ultra super critical coal fired power stations starting to be rolled out in Japan, integrated gasification coal fired power stations. None of this mentioned. They did find room to mention e-bikes and scooters as apparently ways to lower emissions inside of the planet. I’m dumbstruck by it and I’ve passed it onto Angus. He assures me it’s a draft and the final will look into these things, but we’ve got to get real in this country.

The bigger point here is why are we mucking around with all this rubbish like e-scooters and stuff when millions of Australians are out of work? We’ve got our major economic partner threatening our economics security in China. It’s time to get real. It’s time to leave the childish things behind and focus on what is really important to make our country strong again, to bring back those manufacturing jobs we lost. The last decade, our manufacturing industry has gone backwards. And to do that, we’ve got to have the mature discussions about what our natural advantages are and not try and compromise those discussions with these, I think now, pointless diversions on things like lowering our very, very small carbon footprint here. That’s going to do nothing for the environment. As you described, China is doing nothing. All it’s doing is handicapping our own industry and our own ability to produce jobs in this country.

Andrew Bolt: Yeah. Manufacturing can’t really compete effectively with international competitors unless we have very cheap power, as cheap as we can make it. We’ve got enough disadvantages with distance and all that without crippling ourselves by making our power prices among the highest in the world. But Matt, you actually supported the Paris Agreement when you were a minister.

Matt Canavan: Yeah.

Andrew Bolt: Isn’t it time that more ministers said, “Listen, it’s a joke. It’s actually a disadvantage to us. And by the way, global man-made warming is not the big menace it’s made out to be.” Would you agree with that?

Matt Canavan: Well, Andrew, you’re right to say I did support the signing up to the Paris Agreement. I don’t resolve from that. That’s what my position was. I did that because I think Australia has benefited enormously from being involved in international agreements over the past 30 years, including trade agreements. But the world has changed. We’re increasingly seeing those agreements not being worth the paper they’re written on, including in the trade space. We are seeing countries revert back to a greater form of nationalism, economic nationalism. And we have to respond to that because we’re a relatively small country, which can’t just dictate how the world is going to work.

I think we’ve got to get back to driving growth from the Australian sources of our natural advantages. We probably won’t be able to rely as much on the globe to drive that economic growth like we have through the mining boom and the broader growth in world trade. So they’re just realities we’ve got to react to. So I’ve changed my position. I don’t think we should stay in the Paris Agreement now. There doesn’t seem to be a lot in it for us, while China is not even honouring a trade agreement. Why would we tie ourselves down with this now? And as I say, I think there’s bigger issues to focus on right now in our own country..

Andrew Bolt: Another day I hope to get you on admitting that global warming is far from the catastrophe that

Matt Canavan: I was about to talk about that.

Andrew Bolt: Sorry. I was running out of time. I thought you were filibustering.

Matt Canavan: Sorry.

Andrew Bolt: Okay.

Matt Canavan: If you’ve got to let me go, we’ll do it another night.

Andrew Bolt: Well, you just tell me in 10 seconds what your position is.

Matt Canavan: I’ve always thought that large parts of the science, and I’ve said this in the past, are exaggerated. I do accept there’s a link between carbon dioxide and a warming effect. The size of that effect is very uncertain and that’s in the IPCC reports. Their range is one and a half to three and a half degrees Celsius. So I think we have got to be real that it is not an imminent threat.

Andrew Bolt: Next time I’ll start with that question first.

Matt Canavan: Yeah. It’s pretty detailed on that one.

Andrew Bolt: Good on you. Thank you so much, indeed, for your time, mate.
Sky News

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  2. Crispin bpm says:

    I had a quick look at the ANERIOD website this morning to check on Victorian coal power output. It revealed that coal was running pretty much at capacity. There was a slight dip between 3 to 6 A.M. But it was up and running again soon after despite the strong gale force winds passing over the state. Renewables appear to have little or no effect on baseload coal output. At least in this instance. One to keep an eye on perhaps.

    https://anero.id/energy/fossil-energy

  3. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    At the result of the last Federal Election I was hoping we would have a Federal Government who would be willing to stand up for the people of this Nation and ensure a future our children could be proud off, a future that ensured employment for them, that ensured the future of our environment, unfortunately we have got more of the same The same weak unresponsive stuck in the mire of false claims made by ideologically challenged people and groups who are incapable of accepting they have been wrong in their attempts to justify the damage being done to our world and environments by industrially harmful and health destroying Turbines and other so called ‘renewable’ energy production methods.
    They are still rolling around in the muck from these people and groups, they are not showing any evidence that they have worked there way out of the mess and certainly none that they are going to bring this once prosperous and advancing Nation back to what it was.
    We have the chance to set in motion a huge rebuild of this Nations prosperity while maintaining as well as improving our environment but they prefer to sit back and let this opportunity go by without a whimper to common sense.
    I and no doubt many others are waiting to purchase things produced in Australia, clothes that are made here from natural and materials which ensure the comport of the wearer and are washable and last longer than a couple of weeks, shoes that are made and designed to fit a western foot rather having to ware something made from smelly substitutes which wear out or fall apart before a season has even advanced half way.
    We want white goods that look good, do the job without having to get the repairer in on a regular basis or replace them every year. We want to know the stainless steel used in manufactured goods will be stainless and a strength that is true and will be totally effective for the job it is used for.
    We want electrical goods that will not blow-up or electrocute us or cause a fire in the dead of night.
    We want to see our own people in work and not only in the Internet industry.
    We want our farmers and food producers to be able to source their needs grown here in Australia in clean ground and using clean water.
    To do this we need electricity produced in ways that are not intermittent, harmful to humans or the environment and at a cost which is not prohibitive.
    We have a history of the above production even when using so called ‘dirty’ coal powered energy production methods, so why can’t we do it using clean coal and nuclear energy methods?
    Why do we have to fall further and further behind First world status by using expensive, environmentally dangerous, harmful health destroying energy producing methods?
    Wake up our Federal Politicians and let this nation thrive again.

  4. Reblogged this on uwerolandgross.

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