23 January, 2017
Courtesy of the Townsville Bulletin
People living in North Queensland have every right to feel anxious about their State Government’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
After all, they need only look to South Australia to see what happens when a state government decides to “experiment” with an energy mix while discouraging coal-fired power.
The result: power prices go up and the lights go out.
And the last thing Queensland needs right now is higher energy prices. Just this week, Australia’s largest aluminium smelter Boyne at Gladstone said it would cut jobs and production because of massive electricity price hikes, and accused one generator of holding prices at 500 times the cost of generation. Hopefully Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was listening this week when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in Brisbane that clean coal fired plant must continue to be part of the mix as Australia transitions to a clean energy future.
Picking up on this theme Member for Dawson George Christensen has called for a new generation of efficient coal-fired power stations to be built near Mackay.
It wouldn’t be breaking new ground up north. In 2001, the 810MW Callide Power Plant was commissioned in central Queensland, becoming the first super-critical coal-fired power station in Australia. The original power station at Callide, built in 1965 and refurbished in 1998, was also a clean coal pioneer.
The point is, the technology is here. Around the world, clean coal technology is being embraced as the cost-efficient way to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning the cost of keeping temperature increases below two degrees will double without the support of clean coal technology. In this context, the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 is extraordinary.
The Federal Government says the cost of Queensland’s renewables experiment is in the vicinity of $27 billion between 2016 and 2030.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg warns Queenslanders to have their candles and torches at the ready.
NATHAN VASS, Former energy sector executive who established the Australian Power Project to promote sustainable national energy policy.