BBC Climate Expert Explains How Australia Could Live Without Coal Exports

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Coal is both Australia’s second largest export and something Australia could live without, according to the BBC.

Climate change: Why Australia refuses to give up coal

By Frances Mao
BBC News, Sydney

In a world racing to reduce pollution, Australia is a stark outlier.

Canberra has also resisted joining the two-thirds of countries who have pledged net zero emissions by 2050.

And instead of phasing out coal – the worst fossil fuel – it’s committed to digging for more. 

So it’s no surprise that Australia is being viewed as a “bad guy” going into the COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow, analysts say.

Mining has helped drive Australia’s economy for decades, and coal remains the country’s second-biggest export. 

Coal exports totalled A$55bn (£29bn; $40bn) last year, but most of this wealth was kept by mining companies. Less than a tenth went to Australia directly – that’s about 1% of national revenue.

The coal workforce of 40,000 is about half the size of McDonald’s in Australia. But coal jobs do sustain some rural communities.

But analysts say there’s no long-term market as countries race to meet emissions goals.

Australia could end its literally toxic relationship with coal fairly quickly, experts say.

Its economy is stable and well-diversified to absorb the loss of coal exports.

This has frustrated those who say Australia should be investing to become a renewables superpower. 

As one of the sunniest and windiest continents on Earth, Australia is “uniquely placed to benefit economically” from its abundant natural resources, says the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organisation.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-57925798

The BBC economic analysis leaves out an important detail – the $55 billion / year annual coal export industry keeps the the Australian dollar afloat. Australian law requires companies to sell exports at realistic prices, even if they are cross selling between divisions of the same company, so all that coal has to be purchased using Australian dollars. Without that $55 billion annual influx of foreign currency, the value of the Aussie dollar would likely collapse.

What about Australia’s alleged opportunity to become a green energy superpower?

My question: Why are the experts who claim Australia could be a “renewables superpower” demanding government support, instead of putting their own money where their mouth is?

The reason, of course, is the numbers don’t add up.

Australia might be one of the sunniest and windiest continents on Earth, but it is also one of the driest and dustiest places on Earth.

The Australian outback is an incredibly hostile environment for machinery.

Even on the coast, where I live, everything gets covered with a thick layer of dust in days. Gearboxes and bearings fill with grit. Surfaces get abraded. Plastic and rubber rapidly disintegrates under our hot ultraviolet soaked sunlight.

If I park my automobile outside at night, by morning I need to wash my windscreen using the wipers.

Some of the dust contains salt and organic compounds, and picks up electrostatic charges as it is blown by the wind, so it sticks to surfaces like glue, and has to be washed off. You cannot just shake or brush it off.

In the desert, away from the coast, it is even worse.

Unless you have a good supply of fresh water and soap for washing dust off everything you care about, lubricating oil to clean out dust contaminated bearings, and maintenance people to fix all the stuff which breaks, no machinery installation in the Australian interior survives for long.

Vast supplies of fresh water are not easy to find in Australia. Where fresh water is available, it is mostly already claimed by others, who would have to be compensated for loss of access. Billions of dollars would be required, to buy out farmers and miners who are already using every scrap of fresh water which is available, assuming you could convince any of them to sell.

Why would the cleaning water have to be fresh? What about pumping salt water from the ocean?

Salt water would be a disaster for cleaning renewable energy installations. The water would leave a film of translucent salt on everything. Stalagmites and stalactites of electrically conductive salt would accumulate on the edges of solar panels and sensitive electric installations, creating short circuits and fires. Salt water is far more corrosive than fresh water, it would rapidly attack any alumina fittings and all but high grade stainless steel. Salt water use could even lead to accelerated structural failures if there were any significant earth leakages, by accelerating corrosion of any structural metal components in contact with the ground. The influx of salt would remain in the environment, causing a localised ecological disaster.

Remember, the interior of Australia is sunny AND windy. Those solar panels better be anchored to the ground with lots of concrete and structural steel, otherwise they will blow away. The UV gelcoat protection on wind turbine blades would have to be meticulously maintained, to prevent our harsh sunlight from wrecking the plastic. And lets not forget, the freak storms which occasionally sweep in from the coast can drop rock hard hailstones the size of baseballs – not a good thing for anything caught under the storm.

This in my opinion is why companies are demanding large infusions of government cash before they’ll touch our alleged amazing opportunity to become a “renewables superpower”. As with most renewable energy schemes, I believe people behind the Australian “renewables superpower” vision expect any profit will come from milking taxpayers, not from genuinely profitable commercial sales of their product.

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Tom Halla
October 22, 2021 6:11 pm

Green prayer wheels have always been something of a scam, with greens knowing the math, but lying as to how viable they were. They should have been honest, and stated that they want people to freeze in the dark, as industrial society is their ultimate evil.

commieBob
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 22, 2021 6:32 pm

Yep. What set off my bs meter was:

Less than a tenth went to Australia directly ...

Weasel words to cloud the minds of people who don’t know much about economics. They remind me of These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Cheap lying liar mind tricks.

PCman999
Reply to  commieBob
October 22, 2021 7:35 pm

Exactly! $55 Billion enters the economy, spirals a few times through the economy, turning into, say $150-200 Billion additional to the total economy. Even more if some of the coal is used to make other products like steel and feedstock for other chemicals. I doubt imported wind turbines and solar panels will have the same effect, especially considering how high-maintenance and fragile green tech is.

Duker
Reply to  PCman999
October 22, 2021 10:57 pm

Yes . These are well paid coal mining jobs which support others in the rail industry and ports . They are more valuable than low paid entry level jobs at Maccas

Streetcred
Reply to  Duker
October 22, 2021 11:25 pm

We already have an abundance of coffee baristas !

Jim Gorman
Reply to  PCman999
October 23, 2021 5:12 am

Somehow these folks want you to believe these companies are like Midas storing the money in big old vaults so they can go play in the money pile while keeping it from the rest of the world. Anybody with any sense should know that money goes to pay taxes, employees, shareholders, and other investment. No one, I repeat, no one just leaves their money in the mattress earning no interest.

commieBob
Reply to  Jim Gorman
October 23, 2021 10:13 am

Indeed.

A company with too many non-productive assets becomes a target for “vulture” capitalists.

Gary S
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 22, 2021 8:33 pm

Written by Frances MAO. Says it all.

Dennis
Reply to  Gary S
October 22, 2021 10:17 pm

In a Little Red Book?

michael hart
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 23, 2021 11:38 am

Ton Halla, some of the green scammers may know a bit of mathematics, or at least enough to keep their accountants happy. But I believe most of their audience do not.

Most of the green garbage can be quickly discounted by those with sufficient mathematical abilities to ask the obvious questions. I think it is the major educational failing of Western societies: People really are willing to be cynical and ask questions, but just don’t have the basic tools to do so effectively.

Ron Long
October 22, 2021 6:12 pm

Isn’t Australia still selling their high-quality coal to China? In a round-about way, perhaps? And isn’t it better that China uses Australian high-quality (cleaner burning and higher BTU) coal instead of their low-quality, more “contaminating” coal? Isn’t Australia therefore helping control pollution?

AntonyIndia
Reply to  Ron Long
October 22, 2021 9:50 pm

Not since Xi Jinping banned import of Australian coal in a fit to punish the Aussies for their critique of China’s spread of Covid over the globe: the didn’t allow domestic flights but did international.
No problem, soon Adani will start exporting to India etc. to give Indonesia some competition.

Mike
Reply to  AntonyIndia
October 22, 2021 10:56 pm

I think they have started using it again. At least what was stalled in the ports. But I agree about India. A huge market. And good on them for using it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike
Duker
Reply to  AntonyIndia
October 22, 2021 11:02 pm

China commonly used ‘middlemen’ to give the appearance of origin or destination of various products. Sanctions on Iran, Huawei used middlemen, same for imports of oil from Iran. The Aussie coal just has some paper transaction to pretend it’s from elsewhere.

RickWill
October 22, 2021 6:34 pm

Unless you have a good supply of fresh water and soap for washing dust off everything you care about, lubricating oil to clean out dust contaminated bearings, and maintenance people to fix all the stuff which breaks, no machinery installation in the Australian interior survives for long.

This is what is commonly referred to as clutching at straws. Australia provides half of the world’s iron ore from the same hostile environment. It took a few decades to convert UK/US design to the environment but Australians have managed very well in the last 30 years or so.

Solar installations in this part of the world are doing OK.
https://www.australiansolarquotes.com.au/blog/2012/04/07/marble-bar-nullagine-power-stations-build-solar-farm-north-perth/
This one did get government help but at current diesel fuel prices would be easily economic without subsidy.

Solar power is so prevalent in northwest WA that the grid provider has to cap solar installations to avoid grid instability. The same problem would occur in South Australia if they did not have Victoria to take their excess solar.

Solar power is uneconomic because of the cost of overcoming the intermittency. Bringing in BS about cleaning, lack of water corrosion etc is just that – BS.

The grid scale solar schemes in Queensland and South Australia are uneconomic because rooftop solar has no scheduling limit. It forces grid scale to curtail most days as observed in SA today:
http://nemlog.com.au/gen/region/sa/

If storage cost nothing then intermittent solar would be the lowest cost energy source in Australia. But storage is EXPENSIVE.

Ron Long
Reply to  RickWill
October 22, 2021 6:46 pm

Rick, when you search for recommendations of cleaning solar panels in an arid, dusty environment, it recommends cleaning them with water and soap. The Google solar cell station reports a 15 % increase in electricity generation after cleaning. Not sure why you call BS on Eric?

RickWill
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2021 8:02 pm

Northern Australia has huge quantity of water available. Old River comes to mind without a seconds thought.

Dewatering is a huge issue for any mine in northern Australia. There has been no issue collecting water for any purpose in northern Australia. I have direct experience with the water issues in all the iron ore mines, Argyle Diamond Mine, Ranger Uranium mine, Century zinc mine and Mt Isa copper mine. Water is a serious issue and excess has been known to halt mining in lower extents for over a year.

To think there is a shortage of water in northern, inland Australia is naive.
https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Ranger+Uranium+Mine/@-12.6798656,132.9008378,5040m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x2cb7bcdc9ab4d4cb:0xaefbac381144c319!8m2!3d-12.6847555!4d132.9106698
https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/New+Century+Mine/@-18.7565597,138.6165293,13286m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x6a1bfb37d784bcc3:0xfc1747cff50d5d33!8m2!3d-18.7340049!4d138.6191558
https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Argyle+Diamond+Mine,+Lake+Argyle+WA+6743/@-16.4517447,128.4187977,84933m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x2c9bf3cf92d7a3af:0xd07e4761f4dbb250!8m2!3d-16.720286!4d128.3850445

Century transported concentrate from the mine to port at Karumba over 300km away using excess water from the mine. The filtered water was used in Karumba for cattle feed fattening. Even getting rid of that water was not sufficient to reduce the gradual accumulation of water in the water containment are of the mine.

Water is not an issue anywhere in northern Australia – suggesting so is naive. Australia could be transporting water south at very low cost to provide water security rather than just letting it go back into the Timor Sea.

Dennis
Reply to  RickWill
October 22, 2021 8:27 pm

I have travelled extensively around and across Australia many times, for example my new diesel vehicle purchased new in 2013 was traded in on a new diesel vehicle in 2017 with 200,000 kilometres travelled. And despite COVI-19 restrictions and a period when I was caring for a cancer patient the 2017 diesel vehicle has almost reached 110,000 kilometres.

Most of the electricity available at roadhouses, mine sites, farm properties and small towns is from diesel fuelled generators, very few solar installations or wind turbines. Road trains hauling up to four tanker trailers are often encountered when driving on the Outback roads. Typically the multiple industrial capacity generators at sites consume thousands of litres of diesel a week.

If solar was cost effective, noting the long periods of high temperatures and dust carried by winds solar performance is poor, and needs backing up with battery storage and even diesel generators so why would solar be favoured?

RickWill
Reply to  Dennis
October 22, 2021 11:53 pm

Mines are making an economic decision to use solar as a diesel fuel replacement. It just reduces the fuel usage and is economic. There are a number of them now. The largest is Weipa and being expanded but it is not alone:
https://arena.gov.au/projects/weipa-solar-farm/
It is a demonstration plant that was subsidised but its economics would stack up without subsidy with current diesel proces.

I don’t think the Cannington mine EDL solar hybrid station is subsidised:
https://edlenergy.com/news/edl-signs-major-contract-extension-with-south32-and-announces-development-of-australias-second-largest-solar-hybrid-power-system-with-sunshift/

The point is there is no limitation on water supply for panel cleaning in northern Australia if it is actually required.

There are numerous solar pump installations on properties.

Almost every caravan traversing Australia has solar panels these days as does every cruising boat. The only issue I have seen with boats is bird poo. That will not be an issue in the desert because the panels run hot; probably in excess of 60C and that is an issue for the materials selected.

This lists EDL hybrid sites:
https://edlenergy.com/what-we-do/renewables-hybrids/

Alan the Brit
Reply to  RickWill
October 23, 2021 9:05 am

Trust me, the Australian tax-dollar will find a way into the pockets of the renewables lobby somewhere! The UK renewable/unreliable network is regularly ballyhoo’d as profitable but they deliberately & deceptively decline to acknowledge the huge taxpayer subsidies they receive to make them so allegedly “profitable”!!! On UK energy bills it’s referred to as the renewable energy contribution aka subsidy!!! I hate being screwed at the best of times, but prefer it if I don’t realise I’m being screwed, but when I know I’m being screwed then my blood starts to boil, especially as there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop this taxpayer funded criminal fraud!!! I don’t fear being sued by a bunch of blood-sucking lawyers for saying this, as the very last thing the Greenalist scamsters want is to be dragged into court!!!

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  RickWill
October 24, 2021 10:47 am

If you work from 10 AM to 2 PM that might be fine. Otherwise, you still need the diesel generators.

Streetcred
Reply to  RickWill
October 22, 2021 11:37 pm

Firstly, heavy engineering machinery for mining, continuously maintained, is not the same as electronic equipment left out in the harsh environment.

Secondly, if recycled mine water is so prevalent in our north, why do we always have drought in the south ? There is currently no infrastructure to pipe water south to the cities and the Greens and Labor have blocked the construction of dams to capture monsoon rain at every opportunity. Recycled sewerage water is rejected for human consumption … Queensland built infrastructure for this at a huge cost and it is not used. Notwithstanding, the recycled water for industrial use is likewise shunned and is no good for agriculture due to the sodium content.
I can’t see us acceding to using highly mineralised toxic tailings water for human consumption.
Talk about naive.

Last edited 1 month ago by Streetcred
Alan the Brit
Reply to  RickWill
October 23, 2021 8:57 am

Britain had back in the late 18th century & early 19th century an excess of water from mining, so we built canals to dispose of the waste water that culminated in an extensive network of transportation links around the country using canal barges, very successful they were too until the invention of the ICE & motor transport!!! Those canals are now an extensive tourist transport system for high-days & holidays, & many still live aboard these barges as permanent residences!!! There is hope then for Australia me thinks!!!

markx
Reply to  RickWill
October 22, 2021 8:24 pm

“…grid provider has to cap solar installations to avoid grid instability….”

That is a problem for ALL solar installations, everywhere, once it makes up a certain fairly small proportion of the mix. It is NOT a measure of success, just a pointer to an inadequate plan.

The grid is not designed for those increases in supply, and it can’t be pushed back upstream to other sites.

Dispersed wind and solar both require a completely restructured grid….
…. but somehow it is still proclaimed to be cheap.

Duker
Reply to  markx
October 22, 2021 11:07 pm

Yes. They will need lots of capacitors in suburbs to soak up the instability

DMacKenzie
Reply to  markx
October 23, 2021 12:40 pm

Solar and wind power suppliers are basically using what used to be the “reserve” for peaks and emergencies in lieu of “storage batteries”. It is very easy for the utility provider to believe he no longer needs to build more reserve generation because wind and solar are available. A couple of years of demand growth….a failure of the wind to blow….and suddenly you are short by double…

David Kamakaris
October 22, 2021 6:43 pm

“In a world racing to reduce pollution, Australia is a stark outlier.”

Hello?? China anyone?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  David Kamakaris
October 22, 2021 7:29 pm

And India
Africa
Oh, and Europe and Britain
Lest we forget

There are real costs attached to stupidity

Dennis
Reply to  David Kamakaris
October 22, 2021 8:30 pm

Australia emissions are 1.3 per cent of world total, China is 38 per cent.

Australia has already reduced emissions and exceeded the Kyoto targets and is in line to meet or exceed the Paris targets. China continues to increase emissions every year by more than Australia’s total annual emissions.

Duker
Reply to  Dennis
October 22, 2021 11:12 pm

Well not quite. The transport emissions have increased, the power generation emissions have increased. It using. Kyoto agreement trick that allows Australia to claim land clearance that didn’t happen as ‘reductions’. Even those reductions in cleared land for farming are mostly fake as well.
But hey it was a trick that worked in a whole Hall of mirrors in climate trickery

Streetcred
Reply to  Duker
October 22, 2021 11:41 pm

Same ‘trickery’ used everywhere else in the world 😉

October 22, 2021 6:49 pm

Per the COP process CO2 emissions are scored against the emitter, where the fuel is burned.
Aussie coal sent to China and other developing countries doesn’t count against Australia’s INDC’s emissions, and since the COP process gives developing countries a total pass on emissions, the climate scammers are left with nothing.
So now they have decided to go after Australia’s economic livelihood, not because Oz is the emitter, but because their COP accounting process is doesn’t ding Australia’s coal.

Last edited 1 month ago by joelobryan
Dennis
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 22, 2021 8:31 pm

Reduce Australia’s revenue at a time when China is increasingly threatening many nations?

October 22, 2021 7:01 pm

Under its energy crisis, China is releasing Australian coal from its bonded storage, after a year-long import ban, One million tonnes of Australian coal were stranded in Chinese warehouses. However, China has been accessing this coal since last month. In addition, demand from China and India has pushed International coal prices to record highs,

China is scrambling to reduce a power crisis from a coal shortage.
A power crisis is gripping the world’s top consumers of coal due to demand from industry and households, pushing World prices to record highs and causing widespread curbs on use. 
Many cargo loads of coal from Australia have been diverted to India.

There seem to be increasing votes from the majority of the world for Australia to keep on digging up coal and selling it to the world. The fact that the UK killed off its antiquated and inefficient coal industry is irrelevant.

Duker
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
October 22, 2021 11:16 pm

Coal isn’t stored in warehouses. That’s just another trick . The coal was used soon after arrival …as it was paid for when the ship pulled away from the port loader. The storage thing couldn’t be verified by anyway , it was just a political pretence

Streetcred
Reply to  Duker
October 22, 2021 11:45 pm

With China who knows … my ‘intelligence’ is that it mostly never left the ships and India took it up. What was landed existed as piles in huge open storage. Whether it was paid for or not isn’t a concern for China. 😉

Mr.
October 22, 2021 7:02 pm

Eric, I wonder why you wonder why renewables require government investment subsidies.

All the renewable propositions require OPM.
(Other People’s Money, which is what all the left’s agendas require.)

Linley
October 22, 2021 7:18 pm

I am an Australian. I don’t think Australia should stop its coal mining (or it’s gas drilling). As others have said we have the cleanest coal in the world and if we stop mining then the world emissions increase as other coal will be used.

i can’t comment on our ability to create a green hydrogen industry, however one thing that is not mentioned re green hydrogen is lots of clean water is required I think. We don’t have that and desalination of sea water before making the hydrogen is going to be a very energy intensive process.

In relation to Australia’s economy, something that is rarely mentioned is that as well as coal and gas we have lithium (the biggest lithium producer in the world by some margin), copper, iron ore, uranium and other bits and pieces, all growth industries in a low emissions world. The requirement for an increase of these minerals is not well reported. Our mining is relatively clean and safe and we should be a supplier of choice.

Dennis
Reply to  Linley
October 22, 2021 8:35 pm

Hydrogen could be, might be, has potential to be …… just subsidise the multi-billionaires and they will do their best to achieve it.

Ignoring research and development for decades by other countries, Japan is one of them.

It’s the wealth creation creation of opportunities, so called renewable energy is getting cheaper you know, keep subsidising it and it might get cheaper.

Streetcred
Reply to  Dennis
October 22, 2021 11:48 pm

Hydrogen production will consume huge quantitates of water that we don’t have and 6x more energy than the hydrogen can produce. If only excess ‘renewable energy’ is used they could not produce even 10% of the energy requirement. It is a scam of epic proportions.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Streetcred
October 23, 2021 6:56 am

In the UK Network Rail, that operates the rail tracks, has investigated the possibility of running hydrogen powered trains. They determined that hydrogen powered trains were feasible on just 1300kms of single track of currently unelectrified rail(out of a total of almost 15,000 kms) and that a hydrogen train using electrolysed fuel requires THREE times as much electrical energy as an equivalent electric train for a given number of journeys, thanks to the combined losses in electrolysis, fuel compression and fuel cells.

Plus as hydrogen has only one eighth the density of diesel fuel the fuel storage tanks need to be eight times bigger and hydrogen trains are thus unsuitable for freight or high powered/high speed passenger trains.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Dave Andrews
October 23, 2021 9:13 am

I’d still be a tad nervous of utilising the most powerful & volatile substance in the Universe as a power source – one slip up & boom!!! Still it is a pretty common element after Helium, followed by Oxygen, oh & what’s that other hugely universal element…….oh yes, it’s called CARBON!!!!!

PCman999
October 22, 2021 7:20 pm

It’s quite easy for a country to without tens of billions of dollars in productive industry, as the BBC says. Just cancel the national public broadcaster for starters…

Dennis
Reply to  PCman999
October 22, 2021 8:35 pm

Including ABC Australia

AntonyIndia
Reply to  PCman999
October 22, 2021 9:58 pm

The BBC wouldn’t survive a year without its compulsory subscriptions for anyone with a TV, regardless of power source. Their worse than the USSR, but more colorful than their example the Pravda.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  AntonyIndia
October 22, 2021 11:20 pm

The BBC wouldn’t survive a year without its compulsory subscriptions for anyone with a TV

They would just be funded from general taxes like most other countries.

While in the UK, I liked the system because I don’t watch tv and didn’t have to pay. In Australia I don’t watch tv, but have to pay through general taxes. I don’t pay any taxes except 10% GST and fuel duty now, at least (most pensions are tax free in Australia).

In Italy I pay through local property taxes. I can apply to have this removed, but dealing with Italian bureaucracy is not worth the hassle.

observa
October 22, 2021 7:23 pm

As one of the sunniest and windiest continents on Earth, Australia is “uniquely placed to benefit economically” from its abundant natural resources

That’s true but alas those pesky consumers interested only in marginal outputs-
Wind Energy in Australia | October 2021 | Aneroid

Dennis
Reply to  observa
October 22, 2021 10:01 pm

The AEMO published Capacity Factor for Wind Turbines is 30 to 35 per cent of Nameplate Capacity.

However, published via a comment at JoNova a couple of years ago as a result of private monitoring at the AEMO website the average or Capacity Factor was 28.5 per cent.

Solar was 17.5 per cent.

Duker
Reply to  Dennis
October 22, 2021 11:26 pm

They juggle those numbers as you have shown
Wind is now measured not on nameplate capacity , but a new lower figure based on average wind speed for that location…instant improvement.
Of course they never bothered doing that for say hydro dams on average river flow ,…lower in summer higher in winter . The turbine capacity on nameplate was all that mattered. Same goes for coal or gas plant . Supply of coal or gas averaged over year doesn’t get into a reduction of nameplate capacity

KevC
Reply to  Duker
October 24, 2021 2:36 am

ah yes..the devil is in the detail.. and can be twisted to suit any cause..
With a coal or gas fired base load generator, it is possible to run at nameplate capacity for weeks/months at a time, as well as throttle back a little but not too much.. These beasts are reasonably reliable and have been shown over a 12 month period to be able to supply roughly 85% or better of nameplate capacity in that period.. Need backup ? no worries, just have another unit on standby for every 6-7 installed.. I think this is how the grid has been covering the “base load” since the grid got interconnected. Then you have peaker plants that can be started and ramped up quickly to their nameplate capacity, but by design, are only required to run for a few hours at a time to supply the extra power demand in peak times. Obviously their “capacity factor” percentage based on a full year are going to be low even though they ramp up to full output and do that reliably. Then you have renewables.. we areconstantly reminded of how many GW of rooftop solar is installed, but at NO time, has there EVER been that amount of power produced by the rooftop solar systems. Solar provides power when solar wants to, NOT when the demand actually NEEDS it. Similar with wind. Not to write off solar and wind..there CAN be beneficial if one has sufficient economical storage to shift the production into the demand timeslot. Coal and gas powered turbines? YES, you CAN reliably get nameplate output and for hours/days/weeks/months even at a time.. Peaker plants ? YES you can get nameplate output from them for the hours where they are needed to meet demand. Solar and Wind. NO you cannot get the nameplate output from them when required. What you get is some amount of power that just happens to be available at that time. Until economical storage is found, we are destined to keep using coal and gas (or go nuclear) OR face massive capital expenditure in infrastructure (like 3-4 times coal/gas nameplate capacity) AND still have need for major investment in emergency generators for when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow..

RexAlan
October 22, 2021 7:29 pm

“But analysts say there’s no long-term market (for coal) as countries race to meet emissions goals”.

If that’s the case why is the price of coal going through the roof.

observa
Reply to  RexAlan
October 22, 2021 7:50 pm

Doing exactly what the watermelons want with carbon taxing and yet they’re still not happy?
Sad Sack Syndrome methinks.

Robert of Texas
October 22, 2021 7:55 pm

If Australia did become a “renewables superpower”, how would they export any of that energy to other countries? By making liquid hydrogen?

So they would take a relatively cheap existing raw resource (coal) which is already easy to export, and replace it with a very expensive intermittent power source (say wind) whose infrastructure would require 100% replacement every 20 or so years, use that to make hydrogen losing most of the energy in the process, move that to special ships, and then ship it to special receiving ports – and do all of this at a 55 billion dollar profit or essentially make themselves more poor.

Yeah, I bet every Autralian is just dying to jump on board of that ship-to-nowhere.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Robert of Texas
October 24, 2021 10:54 am

Thank you. The article is pushing for Australia to stop exporting coal, so they would need to replace it with another export. You can’t just box up electricity or put it into the hold of a ship. Frances Mao is an idiot of the highest order.

October 22, 2021 7:56 pm

The COP26 fanatics have closed their eyes and ears to the current energy crisis and skyrocketing prices for electricity, coal,oil, and natural gas. The BBC continues to beat the “Green” drum with the mantra `”Carbon Bad, Coal Bad, Wind and Solar Good”. They seem desperate to keep the gravy train of government subsidies for wind and solar installations flowing.
Meanwhile, the current energy supply and price increase crisis is caused by government reliance on that same Green Agenda: Nuclear and Coal-fired electricity generating plants have been decommissioned, and investment in fossil fuel extraction has been reduced. The Green Dream has hit the wall of reality: Wind and Solar are unreliable and uneconomic to provide base load electricity. Countries are now scrambling to find energy sources as winter approaches in China and Europe and industries are shutting down as fuel supplies become short and electricity costs skyrocket. Homeowners face electricity outages and cold homes. Coal-fired electricity plants are being re-started to provide electrical service. China is realizing that it was a mistake to refuse imports of coal from Australia, and is now taking all the coal it can at whatever price in an attempt to keep the lights lit and the factories running.
Food security has also become an issue as fertilizer production is reduced and prices increase from lack of energy supplies.

Peter Wells
Reply to  Al Tinfoil
October 23, 2021 4:33 pm

Some serious starvation should take care of a significant portion of the problem in multiple respects.

TonyL
October 22, 2021 8:18 pm

“Salt water would be a disaster for cleaning renewable energy installations. The water would leave a film of translucent salt on everything. Stalagmites and stalactites of electrically conductive salt would accumulate on the edges of solar panels and sensitive electric installations, creating short circuits and fires.”

????????
You say that like it would be a bad thing. Are you sure?

Dennis
Reply to  TonyL
October 22, 2021 8:38 pm

Australia is the land of “droughts and flooding rains”, heatwaves, dust storms, and other extremes of weather.

Solar does best on cool clear days between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm.

Streetcred
Reply to  Dennis
October 22, 2021 11:53 pm

Not to mention the largest hail stones ‘in the world’ … 16cm … will pulverise any solar installation.
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/queensland-breaks-australian-record-with-16-centimetre-hail-20211020-p591gi.html

Last edited 1 month ago by Streetcred
Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  TonyL
October 23, 2021 1:00 am

Which puts me in mind of British roads which have salt scatter d all over them during the winter months and which will undoubtedly prove a great benefit for all the low slung battery assemblies under our new Frankenstein electric transport. Hmmm ?

Christopher Hanley
October 22, 2021 8:23 pm

The article is full of ‘inaccuracies’.
‘As one of the sunniest and windiest continents on Earth …’.
Wind conditions across Australia look so-so according to 3TIER.
But that is irrelevant, wind and solar are necessarily out of the question for obvious reasons until massive energy storage technology is available at a reasonable cost if ever.
Australia has the largest single uranium ore deposit in the world but the article doesn’t even mention it.
‘Its industries are also well positioned to pivot to new export markets like green steel and aluminium …’.
Impossible without ‘economical plentiful and reliable electricity with a well-developed grid’ (Wiki).
‘”The rest of the world is accelerating past coal,” says the Climate Council, a group of scientists …’.
Unsurprisingly they are wrong.

Last edited 1 month ago by Christopher Hanley
MarkW
Reply to  Christopher Hanley
October 22, 2021 9:53 pm

If the rest of the world is “accelerating past coal” as the activists claim, then it doesn’t matter whether Australia continues to sell coal, as soon, there will be no buyers.

So why are they so upset?

Streetcred
Reply to  Christopher Hanley
October 22, 2021 11:56 pm

Frances Mao of BBC News in Sydney has pivoted to ‘full retard’. Never go full retard !
https://youtu.be/oAKG-kbKeIo

Last edited 1 month ago by Streetcred
lee
October 22, 2021 8:24 pm

BBC Climate Expert Explains How Australia Could Live Without Coal Exports
In a word POORLY.

Mike
Reply to  lee
October 22, 2021 11:06 pm

There’s no such thing as a climate ”expert” for a start.

Peter Wells
Reply to  Mike
October 23, 2021 4:37 pm

Actually there are a few real climate “experts,” but their views are thoroughly suppressed and ignored.

Tom Abbott
October 22, 2021 8:24 pm

From the article: “But analysts say there’s no long-term market as countries race to meet emissions goals.”

I hate to break this to you, but these countries are not racing to meet their emissions goals, they are instead racing to acquire as much fossil fuels as they can to try to keep their nations up and running.

observa
October 22, 2021 8:29 pm

Here’s the latest with solar output in Oz-
Solar farm output overloads national grid, sparking calls for accelerated transmission (msn.com)

So we go from legacy large hub and spoke generation and distribution to spaghetti and meatballs and the solar dumpers want consumers to cough up for more spaghetti everywhere. Oh but keep the hub and spoke going for when we can’t dump on the grid when there’s no sunlight. That’s cheap solar and cooling the planet for you folks.

Dennis
Reply to  observa
October 22, 2021 10:05 pm

Do the maths, how many solar panels or wind turbines are needed to produce 1 MW and what area of land would they require, plus back up equipment and feeder transmission lines to the main grid?

As compared to a coal fired power station, gas or nuclear power station?

In Australia there would not be enough suitable land to accommodate so called renewables installations including ancillary equipment.

observa
Reply to  Dennis
October 22, 2021 10:29 pm

Greenies with their Lord Nelson telescopes up to their blind left eyes. We see no problem here-
A Solar Farm in the Australian Outback Could Supply 15% of Singapore’s Electricity (energymatters.com.au)

Peter Wells
Reply to  observa
October 23, 2021 4:38 pm

And what about the remaining 85%?

Barry James
October 22, 2021 10:14 pm

For a start, the BBC does not have “climate experts”. It has climate activists who are employed as journalists. Being an anti fossil fuel activist is an overriding qualification for employment there. So, the BBC, with their “hit piece” is getting what the British people pay for.

Mike
Reply to  Barry James
October 22, 2021 11:10 pm

For a start, the BBC does not have “climate experts”
No-one does. When they finally work out the ECS (between 0 and 6C) get back to me….

Peter Wells
Reply to  Mike
October 23, 2021 4:40 pm

Any real “climate experts” are thoroughly suppressed and ignored.

Dennis
October 22, 2021 10:22 pm

Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO) operates one small nuclear facility at Lucas Heights, Sydney, NSW, Australia. The reactor produces radio isotopes for medical and commercial purposes since early 1950s without health or safety problems.

ANSTO is an interesting organisation and is researching nuclear energy;

https://www.ansto.gov.au/research/programs/nuclear-fuel-cycle/advanced-nuclear-reactors

Mike
October 22, 2021 10:54 pm

But analysts say there’s no long-term market as countries race to meet emissions goals.”

Analysts say a lot don’t they? I guess if their definition of long term is 80 years, perhaps they are correct??

Peter Wells
Reply to  Mike
October 23, 2021 4:41 pm

take careful note of the word “perhaps.”

David Segal
October 22, 2021 11:26 pm

I find it exasperating to hear the experts suggesting we should stop exporting coal. If other countries like China and India stop buying it we won’t sell it. Pick on India and China , it’s not our fault. If we don’t supply it Russia or Indonesia will pick up the slack. The reality is COP 26 is a farce. Australia is the poster child yet we have about one percent of emissions. If they want to bully someone pick on China. If China doesn’t come along ,no matter what everyone else does ,emissions will keep going up.
Australia stands up to China over COVID origins but caves in over climate change. I know what’s more damaging and it ain’t the Chinese bans on our exports.

RickWill
Reply to  David Segal
October 23, 2021 12:08 am

China needs to stay out of because they make all the stuff the developed world needs to make their wild claims about CO2 reductions. UK could not have reduced its CO2 without using the stuff made in China that makes that possible.

aussiecol
October 22, 2021 11:49 pm

Australia could end its literally toxic relationship with coal fairly quickly, experts say.
Its economy is stable and well-diversified to absorb the loss of coal exports.

Meanwhile, while global demand for both metallurgical and thermal coal along with prices soar, Australia is supposed to forgo one of its biggest export earner while other countries fill that demand.
You can’t fix stupid.

Peter Wells
Reply to  aussiecol
October 23, 2021 4:44 pm

I wonder how China would make out if it ended it’s “toxic” relationship with coal imports?

Colin
October 23, 2021 12:23 am

“Most of the wealth was kept by the mining companies”. Seems like every day the Beeb is peddling some new economic fallacy. I’m waiting for some BBC reporter to wash up in Detroit and tell us most of the car industries wealth was owned by Ford/ GM. And therefore Detroit itself was unaffected by the industry’s collapse!
Time was when the Beeb produced interesting intelligent programs. One from the 1980’s was quite critical of Australia’s “system”. Our Beeb reporter asked some local savant how all the obvious wealth in Sydney was sustained when the nation didn’t make actual stuff. And the local said ” there’s mountains near Wagga Wagga that rust when it rains”. Back then there was no debate about the source of Oz’s wealth. If you’d said all the money was going to BHP Billiton people would have thought you were mad.

saveenergy
October 23, 2021 12:39 am

“BBC Climate Expert Explains How Australia Could Live Without Coal Exports”

By the same logic …
The BBC Could Should Live Without the licence fee.

Ben Vorlich
October 23, 2021 1:16 am

Will the proposed solar generated electricity supply from Morocco to the UK suffer from the same issues as solar in the Australian desert?

That’s apart from putting our electricity supply, or part of it, in the hands of people who regard us as the devil incarnate

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
October 23, 2021 7:11 am

Yep all these long range HVDC interconnectors that are being proposed will be desirable targets for all manner of terrorist/rogue organisations.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
October 23, 2021 1:12 pm

And that nice Poisoner Putin chappie.
And he has submarines designed to break cables . . . .

Auto

Rodney Watson
October 23, 2021 1:27 am

You want good reliable Electricity , you go Nuclear , I will wait for sound researched criticism here.

Disputin
Reply to  Rodney Watson
October 23, 2021 3:44 am

Don’t hold your breath!

Patrick MJD
October 23, 2021 2:43 am

“Australia could end its literally toxic relationship with coal fairly quickly, experts say.

Its economy is stable and well-diversified to absorb the loss of coal exports.”

These, I assume UK based, “experts” clearly have no idea what they are talking about. If Australia gave up coal mining and exports the economy, welfare, health and housing, would collapse.

John in Cheshire
October 23, 2021 2:53 am

I believe it’s only a matter of time before those countries rich in coal deposits begin using it again to meet their power needs.

richard
October 23, 2021 3:15 am

says the BBC funded by taxing the general population.

LdB
October 23, 2021 7:59 am

The French squealled like little stuck pigs when Australia cancelled a $96B sub contract. Yet Australia is supposed to give up a $60B a year industry just to get good guy points with greentards in Europe. Which part of flipping them the bird don’t they understand.

Edward Sager
October 23, 2021 8:47 am

The UK will soon be shivering in the dark, even though it has abundant natural gas reserves (aside from Parliamentary emissions).

Wharfplank
October 23, 2021 9:00 am

Nuclear…

Boff Doff
October 23, 2021 12:17 pm

“The coal workforce of 40,000 is about half the size of McDonald’s in Australia”

Flipping those Big Macs paying A$150k now is it?

LdB
Reply to  Boff Doff
October 23, 2021 5:38 pm

You also have to have pimples and be on the under 21 so they can pay really low wages. It is indeed the most stupid comparison and show greentard logic.

Last edited 1 month ago by LdB
Keith Harrison
October 23, 2021 12:29 pm

I’ve read about the massive solar farm in Aus intended to power Singapore via multi thousand km undersea cable.

Are these guys asking for your government’s subsidies or do they have it fully privately financed?

How would the weather conditions affect these massive arrays?

Graeme#4
Reply to  Keith Harrison
October 23, 2021 11:22 pm

Good questions. Currently nobody knows if the entrepreneurs plan to ask for government subsidies, but there is every chance they will.
There are so many things wrong with this concept that it’s doubtful it will ever start. One serious problem would have to be running a large undersea power cable through one of the most geologically active regions in the world. And keeping all those solar panels clean in the dusty environment has to be another challenge.

Serge Wright
October 23, 2021 2:13 pm

The reason that Australia, a small emitter, is being targeted is very simple. If one western country is resisting, then they fear it might cascade into broader resistance and the opportunity to create global control would be lost. There is much at stake here. Signing up to Net Zero is essentially signing away your sovereignty and you won’t get it back. These globalists know that the climate scare will eventually be exposed, along with the realisation that RE will never power a national grid, and the race is on to lock this in and erase democracy forever.

Serge Wright
October 23, 2021 2:24 pm

If Australia, the biggest exporter of coal, stopped all exports today, what would happen ?. Make no mistake, these crazed Marxists know exactly what would happen, but that is exactly why they want this outcome. Cause an energy crisis so enormous that it brings down the entire global economy. If successful, the resulting death and destruction caused by these globalist elites will make Hitler look like an alter boy by comparison.

Last edited 1 month ago by Serge Wright
Graeme#4
Reply to  Serge Wright
October 23, 2021 11:24 pm

For a start, the countries that Australia exports coal to would have to use lower-grade coal, so the amount of pollution would definitely increase.

Craig from Oz
October 24, 2021 5:10 am

Exporting coal is exporting CARBON.

Ergo, Australia is one of the worlds greatest in reducing national carbon levels.

Pretty sure that is how it works 🙂

Rod Evans
October 24, 2021 7:25 am

You just have to laugh when the Barmy Broadcasting Corporation aka the BBC, offer its answer to anything in the real world.
I love the idea of solar panels in the outback. With all that wind that’s out there, I am sure cleaning them using the copious amounts of water needed to remove the constant covering of dust will be oh so easy to achieve.
Who needs coal when you have BBC pipe dreams to use for energy?

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