Australian resources minister Matt Canavan took his fossil-fuel-loving, clean-energy-technology-disparaging show on the road last week, to attend CERAWeek in Houston, Texas.
Canavan said the main message he delivered at the event, which is billed as “the world’s most prestigious annual gathering offering insight into the energy future,” was that Australia is “open for business.” Although not any sort of business…
“Investments in gas, coal and other resources have meant jobs and small business opportunities for decades in regional Australia. We want to see the next wave of investment and new jobs,” he Tweeted.
But according to reports from the conference, Canavan added a big old p.s. to that message: that the Australian government isn’t down with new-fangled clean energy technology.
Matt Canavan, Australia’s minister for resources, is dismissive of the large Tesla battery in South Australia. “It’s the Kim Kardashian of the energy world: it’s famous for being famous. It really doesn’t do very much.” #CERAWeek2018
— Ed Crooks (@Ed_Crooks) March 7, 2018
Not surprisingly, the comment drew much criticism on social media, with many expressing frustration – and, frankly, embarrassment – that a senior government minister representing Australia would so openly flag his ignorance on such an important technology, and do so on an international stage.
Others tried to see the funny side:
For a minister who professes to admire market economics what part of buying electricity for less than $100 and selling it for more than $8000 doesn’t he like
Tesla big battery is like Kim Kardashian
Both know how to make $$$$
— Bruce Robertson (@barobertson111) March 13, 2018
As we have reported, the Tesla Big Battery, known on the NEM as the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has been going from strength to strength since it was officially “switched on” in December, demonstrating its broad range of key energy market capabilities.
These include, but are not limited to: coming to the rescue when coal units trip; loosening the stranglehold of the gas cartel in the South Australian market; showing its speed and versatility and challenging energy market rule-makers; and making money for its owners.
We emailed Senator Canavan’s office to ask if the CERAWeek comments really reflected his view of the Big Battery, and whether he was aware of the above capabilities it had been demonstrating.
For the record, here is the response we received from his office:
Here is the full quote (it was slightly misheard) and context. Minister Canavan was talking about the need for reliable power that overcomes intermittency, and in particular was asked about the battery installed in South Australia.
“It’s the world’s biggest battery I’m told. I think it can supply power for about five percent of the state that it’s in – South Australia, it’s a relatively small state – for about an hour.
“It’s not really a solution for the stability problems of South Australia. You hear less about the fact that they imported a huge fleet of diesel generators over summer to back up the power system because they had that black out the year before. It’s this ironical situation – they’ve got 40 per cent renewables and they’re importing diesel generators – the dirtiest, most expensive form of power – to back up the wind turbines.
“You’ll excuse me for a bit of rhetorical flourish – I’m a politician. I sometimes think this big battery is the Kim Kardashian of the energy world – it’s famous for being famous.“It really doesn’t deliver very much.”
We need to take issues with some of those comments, apart from the obvious lament that he appears to be an energy technology troglodyte.
As this article explains, the diesel plants brought in by the South Australia government are not only ‘cleaner’ than any coal plant in australia they are cleaner than every coal power station in the world, including his favoured HELE coal plants.
And when they are not switched on – which they haven’t been all summer, apart from maintenance – they don’t burn fuel or money.
Meanwhile, back on home soil, the other minister for coal, Nationals MP George Christensen, was busy fending off another cleantech bogey-man, by declaring the Queensland government’s electric vehicle super highway of fast charging stations from the Gold Coast to Cairns an expensive failure.
How does he know it is a failure? Because he did his research and hung around at the Bowen charging station for “most of (Tuesday) morning,” reports the Mackay Daily Mercury, and not a single person used it!
“$3 million spent across Queensland and I am sure every single station is going to be like this all day. No one there… what a waste of money,” he said.
Presumably he has never sat at a suburban bus stop, used a country road, or visited a public toilet.