Coalition hands out $4 million to pursue new coal generator in Queensland
The Australian Coalition government has announced a new $4 million grant to pursue a new 1GW coal fired generator in north Queensland in one of the first acts of the new pro-coal resources minister Keith Pitt.
A joint announcement from Pitt, National leader Michael McCormack, energy minister Angus Taylor and Queensland MP and assistant minister for norther Australia Michelle Landry says the $4 million will be given to Shine Energy to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed 1GW HELE coal plant at Collinsville in Queensland.
A further $2 million will be allocated to a pre-feasibility study for a rival project, a 1.5GW pumped hydro-electric plant proposed by Renewable Energy Partners which is to be developed in conjunction with the proposed Urannah Water Scheme, and located between Collinsville, Proserpine and Mackay.
The funds are being allocated through the $10 million “Supporting Reliable Energy Infrastructure program.” It is not clear whether this is part of, or additional to, the $10 million announced to study different generation options, including coal fired generation, that was announced as part of the Underwriting New generation Investment program in the lead up to last year’s election.
…Read more: https://reneweconomy.com.au/coalition-hands-out-4-million-to-pursue-new-coal-generator-in-queensland-62362/
What has caused this crack in the facade of bipartisan Australian political support for renewables?
I suspect the major issue driving this new push for coal is mounting severe issues with Australia’s national energy grid, with no end in sight for the problems. Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia all issued blackout warnings this Summer, exposing serious shortfalls in the reliability of supply. Entire industries are starting to flee Australia’s spiralling energy costs and unreliable grid.
This year’s bushfires threatened to cause substantial damage to vital national electricity grid infrastructure. An enlarged, distributed grid, which would be required to service a vast future network of renewable electricity providers, would be even more vulnerable to natural disasters than the current system.
Household solar panels took substantial hail damage this year in Canberra, Australia’s capital city, giving federal politicians and senior government employees first hand and in some cases very personal experience of the fragility of renewables.
If climate change actually did drive the world’s weather systems crazy, renewable infrastructure would be the first casualty. All those vast acreages of thin glass or plastic covered solar panels, and large but vulnerable wind turbines, the vastly enlarged network of power lines renewables would require, all of this would not stand a chance in the face of an actual climate apocalypse.
But a four million dollar feasibility study into coal power is not a new coal plant. Keith Pitt’s unwavering support for reliable, affordable electricity is undermined by a strong block of renewable supporters in his own political coalition, and rabidly climate activist political opposition parties. Frequent heavy handed government intervention in Australian energy markets has frightened off private investors. If the Australian government eventually decides they want a new coal plant, they will almost certainly have to finance or fund it themselves.
Update (EW): JoNova has a detailed post about ongoing severe problems with the Aussie grid, thanks to renewables.