Renewable Revolution? Aussie Government Just Handed $4 Million to a Coal Plant Feasibility Study

Keith Pitt. By Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au, CC BY 3.0 au, Link

The elevation of vocal coal advocate Keith Pitt to the job of Federal Resources Minister a few days ago has sent shockwaves of dismay through Australia’s renewable energy business community.

Coalition hands out $4 million to pursue new coal generator in Queensland

Giles Parkinson 8 February 2020 

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.

64 thoughts on “Renewable Revolution? Aussie Government Just Handed $4 Million to a Coal Plant Feasibility Study

  1. The mounting backlash from the inner cities is going to be ferocious. Banks and construction companies will be blackballed if they lend to the project. Any politician supporting the project will face very well funded and organised opposition at the next election.
    On the other hand, any Party that does not support the project, may lose the next election based on the last one.

    • This is how civil wars start. In Canada, rabid protestors are blocking the ports and railroads, along with a lot of other places openly admitting that they intend to try and destroy the economy of the entire country and any innocent bystanders caught in the middle are just roadkill. Because they don’t support the natural gas pipelines and infrastructure to develop LNG exports to get Asia off coal. Geez, you would think they would be the first to support this.

      This all being promoted by a few heredity chiefs whose birthright power was clipped a long time ago and elected democratic band councils are now the rule. And all 20 elected chiefs of those aboriginal tribes actually support the projects and have signed benefit agreements to participate and in some cases are partners and owners. But they are being bullied into submission to keep quiet, basically by ecoterrorists who must be brought under control, otherwise the insane will will be running the asylum. It is times like these that I see how Russia and China have advantages in being able to keep criminal extortion out of their midsts. But then that introduces other problems as we see with other issues in dictatorial regimes.

      But we do need the rule of law to check the criminal element of the eco-fascist movement, or other people law abiding folk are going to takes things back from these supposed social justice warriors. If they are indeed warriors, then they better prepare for a real battle became a lot of people are getting real mad when they can’t go to work because some unemployed criminal bums think they have social licence to destroy the economy. Enough is enough and we need to go after the instigators of this criminal conspiracy to shut down the world on some vague notion that the future climate will change.

      • The MSM media and their compliant hordes of the politically correct will label you as a terrorist. However, at some point Canadian politicians, nestled in their cocoons of coffee shops and malls, are going to have to become aware of the rising sense of desperation in the vast areas of Canada that are not urban. All aspects of natural resource management and extraction in Canada are now at the mercy of special interest groups and the country has become dysfunctional. Logging, mining, oil and gas exploration, construction and others have all been made untenable by the inability of the Government to issue and protect permits. On the other hand, in BC there are serious problems with the management of caribou, mule deer, moose in some areas, salmonids, rock fish, oolichans, herring, grizzly bears in some areas, fisher, wolverines, agricultural farm land, big horned sheep…………… Consecutive urban based governments have shown themselves to be incapable of, or uninterested in managing BC’s natural resources. Governments in Canada and BC in particular, to borrow a phrase from the left, have lost their social license to manage resources.

    • They don’t have enough support and organizations like getup failed dismally at the last election. If you want it taken to a grand scale Clive spent how much at the last election and got 0 seats. It’s a democracy the start point you need is to be able to win seats and ultimately an election and you don’t get that by first insulting and berating the people you are trying to get vote for you.

    • Two GW of Demand has droppeds from Victoria, Australia’s industrial state from December 2019 to February 2020. Victoria’s industrial base has collapsed. See AEMO (Federal Government Regulator) Demand Charts.

      Almost no-one yet knows. The RET (A$20/MWhr Renewable Charge on coal fired power stations) has destroyed processing business in Victoria in just two years.

      • Yes it’s all but destroyed ours.
        Electricity intensive businesses moving their operations as soon as they practically can.
        We’re looking at the USA and China right now.
        Disappointing really the current Fed Gov is more interested in donations and GST revenue.
        AND trying not to lose the next election by giving Qld hope of a coal station (but they know it won’t happen).
        It’s a ScoMo stunt . . .

    • It’s the people who pay their power bills who do the voting though. Anyone who is building cheap reliable power generation and water supplies will get my vote.

    • ABC were all over it like flies this arvo
      gren ones are saying its only a “feasibility study” and are so sure no one will invest even if its found feasible
      which due to their lobbying and the stupid people they lobby thinking that the activists petitions are how most think..(they really should count the numbers) even 100k signatories is tiny in a pop of 25mil
      even if 15mil of those arent voters or workers etc
      but once again the very loud very few threaten and those who should give em the middle finger give in instead.

      mass cancelculture thickheads on fkbk and the twats really ARE a global problem growing daily.

  2. North Queensland is a long way from Victoria or even NSW. The transmission lines won’t do it.

    So this is a project for a local problem, not an Australian problem.

    Also QLD has always been heavily coal based, unlike our Southern counterparts.

    • There is energy need in Northern Queensland, but a Northern Queensland generator could also feed power to Southern Queensland, which could free Southern Queensland capacity to service the renewable heavy southern states.

  3. what is it going to take to stop letting this $c@m continue?

    They know about China…the rest of the developing world…and they know they are all building more coal plants

    Why are people not calling them on it every time?

    • Because China has been anointed “developing nation” status by the UN and “developing nations” are spared CO2 reduction dictates. It’s part of the Globalist strategy to redistribute wealth. So their CO2 is immune from causing cataclysmic danger like that of Western nations? The hypocrisy reeks.

      • Current estimates put the size of China’s middle class at 400 million people or 140 million households. This is less than one-third of China’s total population. link

        There’s the rub. China’s middle class is larger than the whole population of the United States. Most of China is not middle class.

        It’s completely bogus that the rest of the world should have to subsidize China because, although most of its population lives in developing country conditions, it is a wealthy country in its own right. Expecting America to subsidize China is like expecting a cat to feed an elephant.

  4. > $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…

    Why? Pumped hydro-electric is old technology. Any staffer could prepare a report over the weekend.

    • Using wind to do work is even older. The main issue for Australia is palling up with Indonesia. Indonesia is set to be the 4th largest economy in the world with in 10 years and that growth will come from fossil fuels extraction and use. Australia will be a fool to follow the renewable path in the north and the Govn’t knows it. The only block will be form people not living in the north, those latte sipping fools in city Melbourne and Sydney who think CO2 causes bush fires and the recent flooding rains. The recent heavy rains in NSW were the heaviest since the 1990’s when CO2 was LOWER!

      353ppm/v CO2.

      https://www.co2.earth/monthly-co2

    • I would suggest that the report is a lot more comprehensive than you envision.
      It would cover things such as, site location, rainfall expectations (min/max/typical/pmf), bedrock layers, infiltration, evaporation, useage, types of dam materials, access roads, flora and fauna studies, and calculations relating to pressure and facility requirements, and cost estimates.

      I could do it for a mere $1.5 million.

      • That’s a feasabilty study. The $2m is for a pre-feasibility study. Your comment with a few footnotes added would cover the scope of a pre-feasibility study.

  5. How much more does it cost to build a 1 GW HELI coal fired power plant over a standard coal fired power plant?
    They are going HELI because the power plant being constructed for high temperature, is going to be more energy efficient?
    We can make a standard design coal fired power plant emit less CO2 into the atmosphere than a natural gas fired power plant. We have the technologies to increase a standard coal fired power plants energy efficiency to that of a new natural gas power plant. We can reduce it’s emissions to where it is almost as clean as the

    • Once again, trolling for suckers to help fund his solution that doesn’t work for a problem that doesn’t exist.

  6. Morrison et al have been, in my opinion, fence sitting.

    If you look at the wording of some of their statements the last few months there is actually a bit of wriggle room on what they have declared. The statements have been worded to sound good to the latte elite, but have been vague enough to offer multiple ‘solutions’ to the same problem.

    However, if you sit on a fence too long you end up with splinters in ya blunt end. Morrison needs to pick a side and live or die on it.

    • Craig
      Morrison is playing the A, B, C game Ross has just explained.
      I live in inner city Melbourne but are in A group.
      It is P***ING me off the Morrison is even contemplating supporting C group. My observation as an average voter is he is weak.

      • He is a true politician he only has to beat the opposition, whether you consider him strong or weak is irrelevant.

      • I agree Waza. I think that Scott Morrison has misread his quiet Australians, he is still hearing the noisy ones, the climate change advocates. He thinks that they are the ones he needs to pander to.

        Scott Morrison is a fool if he doesn’t recognise that his ‘quite Australians’ do not support renewable energy! I am not sure who to vote for next time around, it may well be an informal vote for the first time in my life.

    • He won’t do anything until the US election result is in

      Trump gets back in then Paris agreement dies because US is out and there is no way to tackle the US especially since the EU is greatly weakened with Brexit.

      If you get a democrat president then US goes back into the deal and then you have EU and US both pushing the agenda.

      • If we take stock markets as a “proxy” on opinion of investors and industry, stock markets are rising all over the world since Trump’s speech to the union (Sorry my American friends, am I saying it right?). ALL markets are booming, even Australia after bush fires and floods, even after the virus issue. Markets are booming. Unemployment in the US is at record lows, interest rates are at record lows. Trump should win in November. I am hoping for good news on a personal level too about the same time.

        Go Trump!

        • Patrick MJD

          It’s “State of the Union” (SOTU). The Constitution since our founding required that the president report to the congress from time to time on how the country is doing. That has become the SOTU speech, done annually in January.

  7. I guess the standard is different in Oz than here in the USA. I would expect the impetus for such a study here would come from the utility company supplying service. Their engineers would decide what kind of power plant and accessories would be most suitable for their customers – including all the available environmental options – and then submit the answers to their bosses and the regulators.
    For the Government to spend any money on such a study – and for that purpose – is unheard of and is almost guaranteed to produce an unsatisfactory result. The people ordering the study have very different motives, skills and experience in the two situations. The results will reflect that difference.

  8. I’m surprised that some enterprising climate saviors (Malcolm?) haven’t pitched a new nuclear generation plant in Oz to be financed through a carbon credits scheme.

    • Letting the Nuclear Power cat out of the bag while there’s still any functioning CFPSs will split
      The Greens and Labor, and a lot of Liberal supporters won’t be impressed either
      If you think that a Bait and Switch to Nuclear is the Climate Change end game in Australia, i’d think again.
      The future here is more likely to be Russia 1918-23.

    • If nuclear was cheaper than coal why are the Chinese building coal fired stations? They may be a lot of things but stupid the Chinese are not. If nuclear is more expensive than coal only a complete moron would even suggest building nuclear. Or someone who is intelligent but completely corrupt. It’s not CO2 that will destroy our economies. It’s corruption.

      • Part of the questions surrounding nuclear vs coal are:

        1. In the US, new nuclear is more expensive than coal because of “disaster” liability costs and costs of the regulatory burden….not necessarily the fundamental economic costs of the nuclear and coal plants in a political and regulatory vacuum.

        2. Leaving out the phony problem of CO2, there are real environmental issues for both coal (particulate and SO2 pollution, for example) and nuclear (“waste” disposal and security implementation to mitigate terrorism risks) that add to costs.

        Nevertheless, nuclear has been quietly and economically producing massive amounts of energy for many decades now. The few “disasters” which have occurred make clear the relative safety of nuclear when compared to the hysterical anti-nuke claims we have been subjected to. For example, Fukushima supposedly illustrated how dangerous nuclear is and has had a serious impact on the push for new nuclear. But consider: many thousands really died from the tsunami in Fukushima, but only a few may die (it’s theoretical) from the radiation exposure. So where are the calls to move all human habitation away from shorelines susceptible to tsunami’s? Why the imbalanced discussion of Fukushima as primarily a nuclear energy danger event? Hysteria prevailing over rationality.

        Three Mile Island….no one died. Even Chernobyl, a dreadfully designed and operated power plant being used for inappropriate experimentation, really lead to the death of no more people than died from the tsunami at Fukushima—–terrible deaths, sure…..but also proof that “greedy capitalists” are not the causers of the greatest environmental disasters. Actually, we learned from Chernobyl that it was Bernie Sanders’ beloved communist Soviet Union that was the agent of the worst environmental disasters.

        We will know that the Left is serious about mitigating CO2-driven climate change when they truly embrace nuclear energy. Till then, they should be laughed at as non-serious fools. (Of course, there still is the issue that fear of CO2-driven climate change itself is mostly foolish hysteria.)

  9. It’s actually good to know that coal isn’t completely off the table. As for funding the project, just watch. My bet is actual deliverable profit will win over virtue-signalling every time. It will only take another couple of large scale renewable ventures to go belly up before supposedly green financiers lose faith and start looking for profitable projects again. Ordinary people will be angry when they get their superannuation statements and find that the much hyped green investments have delivered negative returns that make international shares seem a bit dull. The tide will eventually turn. There will not be a climate disaster, people will vote out any halfwit government that requires them to pay more to get less. In a few years time there will be some other scam to try and take people’s money and their freedoms and it will fail as well. Either that or there will be a war and it won’t be pretty.

  10. Poor old old Giles his head will explode. His site is pretty rabid pro Ruinables including deletion of dissenting views. A cosy little exho chamber.

  11. Prime Minister Morrison is attempting to please all parties by playing on both sides of the fence. Unfortunately for him Group C, the Warmistas will never support him, no matter what Morrison does. Morrison would be better advised to work for energy stability and ignore so-called ‘renewables’. The members of Group A will vote for him and those members of Group B who are noticing the drain on their wallets by ‘renewables’ and the periodic power failures and block-outs causing them inconvenience and job losses, will also vote for him
    Household solar panels took substantial hail damage this year like the vast acreages of thin glass or plastic covered solar panels destroyed in the Canberra area recently. . This gave the public. federal politicians and senior government employees first hand and in some cases very personal experience of the fragility of ‘renewables’ in severe weather.
    A lot of Group A,B, and C have finally noticed the severe damage that hail does to ‘renewable’ infrastructure Even large wind turbines are vulnerable to extreme wind and bushfires, the network of power lines that renewables require does not stand a chance in fires. Coal-fired power stations just keep on pumping out power and CO2 which is beneficial to crop growth and forest renewal and growth.
    Malcolm Turnbull’s hair-brained costly pumped-hydro scheme in the Snowy mountains actually wastes power in order to make solar and wind sources look practical. The $2 million pre-feasibility study for a 1.5GW pumped hydro-electric plant proposed by Renewable Energy Partners in Queensland is another bandaid solution meant to impress Group C.
    The most important thing is a Trump win and KrazyKat loss in November that will further dent the Warmista cause and rally rational thought on the matter of Climate.

    • Nicholas, given that we don’t have any solar panel recycling plants in Australia, do you know what they’re doing with the damaged panels from the hailstorms in Canberra?

      I wonder if there were solar farms affected by fire or hailstorms. I couldn’t find anything on it but surely there must have been. Given that Victoria have put PV panels in the same category as E-waste and it’s illegal to send them to landfill there, then contaminants should be of concern. If they can’t be sent to landfill because of the risk of soil and water contamination then they must be causing problems in situ.

      People in the country use their water tanks for domestic use, have they (providers and government bodies) not considered that damaged panels on rooftops are at risk of contaminating drinking water?

  12. Should have been built and funded by Government years back. Japan is doing o.k. with Hele Coal generating plants and nuclear, this is the third study on the same issue. Get with it and build it, at least then we will get 50 years of reliable electricity production out of it. while waiting for the inevitable Nuclear Energy clean power revolution for the future proofing of our power grid.

  13. With every construction “shovel ready” project with which the current Victorian Labor government is involved they seem to be in trouble.
    What show, that a feasibility study which may recommend that a HELE coal powered electricity plant be built in Victoria to off-set possible power failures would have of getting off the ground – practically zero chance. Green climate activists would be amassed in the streets opposing the plan.

    • yeah east west issues tunnels halted and billions wasted on shredders n solar and we still got powerout warnings Portland aluminium refinery had yet another powerout the other week
      Icant believe they havent just said F you and shut it down
      but its likely
      the losses must be huge
      If Vic isnt to turn turtle Andrews MUST go

  14. Perfect situation for all QLD ers and fund managers to go fund the power plant imagine the share price after the profits are distributed.

  15. There is a very simple fix to this constant Green Socialist carping about fossil fuel use.
    All customers of the power companies currently being supplied via the grid should be asked to sign a letter of supply agreement.
    The letter would clearly state, “electricity to your premises will be produced using the most efficient energy generation system available, which includes fossil fuels. In order to continue receiving uninterrupted supply, please sign your acceptance and agreement to receive energy from these multiple sources.
    If you do not wish to be supplied with electricity from these multiple sources, we will disconnect you from our customer list.
    In anticipation of your ongoing custom, Thank you”.
    It would allow the constantly offended green socialists, (COGS) to fulfil their heartfelt desire, not to use fossil fuels. It would enable the power companies to rightly claim, all of their customers are supportive of fossil fuels being part of the energy supply.
    I wonder how many of the “activists” would demand to be disconnected?

  16. “If the Australian government eventually decides they want a new coal plant, they will almost certainly have to finance or fund it themselves …”.
    Government interfering in a market to rectify a market failure caused by government interference in a market.

    • No Chris. All the Govt/s would have to do with the stroke of a pen is mandate a level playing field for generators. Namely any supplier of electrons to the communal grid must reasonably guarantee them along with FCAS 24/7/365 or keep them. Game set and match for the unreliables as they’d either have to invest in storage to lift their average tender or partner with thermal and pay them their just insurance premium or some combination of the two.

      What do think that would cost them with their dumping game over just to be able to supply their 30% annual average installed capacity that’s hiding a multitude of sins behind thermal insurers now?
      https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2020/january

    • Its a mess. The issue is private investors have good reason to worry they’ll be expropriated. Yet Australia desperately needs more power. If the current government had any balls they could fix the situation fairly quickly by threatening to be just as punitive against renewables until the opposition backed off and negotiated a bipartisan agreement to restore a level playing field energy market. But I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

      • Right, not going to happen because ScoMo has done a deal with Josh Frydenberg to stay away from his leadership for another term. Following that Josh will lead on a platform of saving Australia by carbon trickery. Josh is being allowed to lay the foundation now in the background. Josh thinks he’s clever but he’ll be consigned to the heap like so many carbonites before (all explode in electoral hell). And this will go on forever . . .

  17. If climate change actually did drive the world’s weather systems crazy, renewable infrastructure would be the first casualty.

    Good point.
    Hope the feasibility studies will turn out positively for the projects.

    The whole next week will also be bad for Scotland, with sleet and snow. The winds there are strong, but UK still needs 2GW from France nuclear, 6GW from own nuclear and 11GW from fossil fuels.

  18. Genuine question. Australia has around 30% of the World’s extractable uranium deposits. It doesn’t have any nuclear power plants. What’s the deal? Earthquake concerns?

    • Politically motivated fear. Australia is well suited for nuclear. Geologically stable, flat, plenty of open spaces hundreds of kilometers from any large cities. No! Australians have been beaten in to fearing the atom by uninformed, well funded, activist and pressure groups to make the nuclear option not an option when it is, ultimately, the best solution if CO2 is a problem.

      Australia USED to be a smart country.

  19. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, Australian State Govts were making the valid economic decision to save the best quality thermal coals to earn export$$, and design the domestic coal-fired power stations to burn non-exportable poor quality high ash content black coals and high moisture brown coals. So a valid economic decision 50 years ago has now been twisted into a crime against humanity. To build a modern HELE coal-fired plant burning our clean high energy black coal to replace one of the older clunkers is no different to taking your 60 year old leaded petrol burning car off the road and replacing it with a modern fuel-efficient version with all its environmental advantages. There has to be a transition period to our future power generation mix, and retiring the oldest plants and replacing some as needed with the latest coal-burning technology is not a backward step – it will reduce emissions.

  20. Only long-term power outages will shock the anti-fossil-fuel mob into sanity. Maybe a disaster movie with that scenario would do it. Chance of Hollywood making that movie are a round zero.

    • Hollywood wouldn’t blame renewables, they would blame incompetence. There is nothing wrong with their ideas, ever, right?

  21. NZ Willy February 11, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Only long-term power outages will shock the anti-fossil-fuel mob into sanity. Maybe a disaster movie with that scenario would do it. Chance of Hollywood making that movie are a round zero.

    ____________________________________

    Easy. “the last beach” remastered:

    https://www.google.com/search?client=ms-android-huawei&sxsrf=ALeKk03v7bBuEEZ07kfVv682UMXCE_B8yA%3A1582554916557&ei=JN9TXsXHIYivmwWJs6f4DQ&q=Hollywood+world+doomsday+movie+the+last+beach&oq=Hollywood+world+doomsday+movie+the+last+beach&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp.

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