Modi says India wants energy that doesn’t melt glaciers

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on the Australian government to join the global effort to meet the world’s growing energy needs with cleaner and renewable power sources.

In an address to Australia’s federal parliament on Tuesday, Modi said one of his government’s top priorities was to provide electricity to every household, derived from “energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt.”Modi-solar_1769999f

The clear reference to global warming would have been a refreshing change in a parliament that has so actively avoided any mention of the world’s changing climate and its potentially catastrophic effects.

“I see Australia as a major partner in every area of our national priority, providing skills and education to our youth, a roof over every head and electricity in every household,” said Modi, naming clean coal and gas, and nuclear alongside renewable energy as future generation choices.

Abbott, meanwhile, was keen to keep the focus on coal.

“If all goes to plan next year, an Indian company will begin the development of Australia’s largest coal mine which will light the lives of 100 million Indians for the next half-century,” he said.

Of course he’s talking about the highly controversial, and much maligned $16.5bn Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin – and the accompanying expansion of Abbot Point coal port – proposed by Indian company Adani.

But not everyone is as excited about the coal mine’s prospects as Tony Abbott. Multiple global investment banks have categorically ruled out investing in the project, due to the high risk of stranded assets, and last week an Australian analyst described the Queensland government’s funding of the project as “pissing taxpayers’ money up against the wall.”

“The Galilee coal projects are totally, commercially unviable,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Resource Studies Australasia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

“Any project undertaken is highly likely to end up as a stranded fossil fuel asset as the rest of the world rapidly transitions to lower carbon solutions. Coal has entered structural decline – there is no two ways about that fact.”

Buckley said the people of Queensland and Australia should be outraged at the idea of “coal addicted” politicians going where international financiers feared to tread, and spending “many billions of tax payer dollars to make an unviable, unwanted and dangerous mega coal project a reality.”  

  • john

    As I see it $16.5bn Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin will need $62.50 a tonne for its 30 million a year output with any profit at all that is the bottom line this is going to be a hard sell I feel

    • Ronald Brakels

      With China’s coal imports falling we may be heading for $30 a tonne. Now some might say the high cost of diesel will prevent coal falling that low or at least falling below that point, but the coal industry is now in penny pinching mode and efficiencies will be made and greater use made of solar and wind provided electricity to save on diesel costs so perhaps coal will fall below $30 a tonne. The fact that coal companies will find it cheaper to use solar panels than to rely entirely on diesel is part of the reason why coal is a dying industry. Anyway, it’s hard to see why anyone sane would invest in the new coal basin, unless of course an insane government was paying your costs for you.

      • john

        As I pointed out the minimum that Carmichael can operate on with zero repayment of Capital is $62.50 a tonne.
        There is no allowance for maintained in the figure mind is worked out at 5% interest but even halving that they still need $59 a tonne not going to work

        • Ronald Brakels

          Yep, while some existing low cost mines will probably continue to shovel out coal if the price drops to $30 a tonne, it would be mad to go ahead with a project that needs about $60+ a tonne to be viable.

          • john

            No mine can exist at $30 a tonne in this country
            A company would have to be very near a port and own the coal terminal we do not have direct coal loading from train to ship here at 10k an hour and deep water to allow 24/7 loading.
            Yes some do load direct granted but still have stockyards.
            The Carmichael Mine is some 300 km from the port.
            Which equates to well over $25 a tonne cost.

          • Ronald Brakels

            It was only 2003 that Newcastle coal was selling for as low as $25 US a tonne. That’s under $30 US a tonne in today’s money. Of course the new mines opened since then generally have operating costs above that. But my understanding is that some efficiency improvements have been made since 2003 in mining and while I’m sure they haven’t been uniformally applied, currently coal mines are looking to cut costs in every area to the bone.

          • john

            Correct Ronald however no mine can operate at $30 a tonne
            I should say they could with 457 visa workers at $8 an hour so possibly it may work however I would not go down that path for too long.
            We are examining however a mine with 300km of train line so there is no way it is viable frankly into the Indian market.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Yes, there is no way the Galilee Basin is economically viable. As I have mentioned several times it would be mad to go ahead with it.

            As for low wage visa workers, we have about 50 robot trucks working mines in Australia, so automation may help keep costs down. Of course the falling Australian dollar is going to affect visa workers vs. domestic workers vs. automation.

          • john

            Yes we do have a lot of robot GPS guided haul trucks working and they have a problem with following the same path so.
            To fix the increase in repair there is needed a software change which I expect will be done it is not exactly hard only a one line change frankly.

  • Glen S

    If he thinks renewables are they way forward why has he signed the deal with dodgy Campbell Newman to allow QLD taxpayers to foot part of the infrastructure bill?

    Especially given his own energy minister recently made statements citing ending coal imports within several years.

    Something is not right.

    • Rob G

      Agree. I smell a rat. It’s probably named Newman.

      • Peter Campbell

        He might be all for renewables, but if someone is offering to pay him to take the coal away, then maybe he’ll be happy to take the offer.

        • Glen S

          Yes, mind you Modi is good friends with Adani, they travelled here together. Obviously helping out a mate. I want to know where the rest of the finance is going to be coming from… Banks don’t seem to want to touch it.

          Adani is selling his current stake in the port for $2 bil to try to help funds along, we have SBI now agreeing in principle to loan $1 bil subject to assessment. QLD government are throwing some undisclosed sum in to the kitty which is supposed to be several hundred million.

          Federal government wouldn’t rule out throwing some in yesterday but they have not committed anything. That still seems like “only” $3.5 bil. I seriously hope it doesn’t get the finance required. It’s a major disaster in so many ways.

  • Rob G

    A couple of days ago the Fin Review made a lot of WHO-HA over the potential coal markets in India. They went on about Modi being good mates with Adani and that it was a done deal; Oz coal would be big in India. Seems a bit misleading to me for a number of valid reasons – Our coal is expensive. Solar is cheaper and quicker to install. India suits solar better than coal as it has a lot of sunshine. Coal requires a lot of water to cool coal-fire generators and most of India has water scarcity. An International carbon price is looming making coal less viable. And probably even more significant India are laying down the foundations of their energy future, its a clean start, so why would they build infrastructure around a dying energy source over new renewables?

  • Bob_Wallace

    “Abbott, meanwhile, was keen to keep the focus on coal.

    “If all goes to plan next year, an Indian company will begin the development of Australia’s largest coal mine which will light the lives of 100 million Indians for the next half-century,” he said.”

    “India’s Energy Minister Piyush Goyal, who is in Australia for the G20 meet, recently announced that India plans to completely stop coal imports within a period of 2 to 3 years.”

    “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”

    Or at least a failure to acknowledge reality….

  • Lorraine Irwin

    But look what is happening in India:

    Coal Rush in India Could Tip Balance on Climate Change…India’s coal mining plans may represent the biggest obstacle to a global climate pact to be negotiated at a conference in Paris next year. “India’s development imperatives cannot be sacrificed at the altar of potential climate changes many years in the future,” – India’s power minister, Piyush Goyal.

  • Leigh Ryan

    Uuummmm so how many jobs does that create ? oh i see NONE! in fact there will be less working there than are currently involved, so adding to the unemployment queue whilst making a handful of mates billionaires is the way of this government, well i told you so.

    • Bob_Wallace

      At least in the US coal has been shedding jobs for a long time. Miners have been replaces with blowing off the tops of mountains and scooping out the coal with massive machinery.

      Even what is left of underground mining is machine heavy and people lite.

      Building wind and solar farms has created a lot of jobs here.

    • Ronald Brakels

      The robot trucks currently working in some mines don’t contribute much to jobs either. Currently rooftop solar installation employs more people in Australia than coal mining does. If we double our rate of solar installation it should require more new workers in that industry than the number who now work in coal.