Resources Minister Matt Canavan’s suggestion that Australia could meet its climate targets by replacing ageing power stations with emerging ‘low emission’ coal-fired technology is an unrealistic fantasy that would cost billions and set back genuine efforts to tackle global warming, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
The Australian reports today that research commissioned by Senator Canavan estimates Australia’s climate pollution could be cut by ‘up to 27 per cent’ if the country’s coal-based power stations ran on ‘ultra-super-critical’ coal technology.
There is not a single so-called ultra-super-critical coal fired power station in Australia. The vast majority of Australia’s coal fired power stations use old sub-critical technology and most are well past their use-by dates, being more than 30 years old, on average.
Senator Canavan is proposing that Australia builds a whole new fleet of coal-fired power stations at unknown cost (likely to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars) at a time when the rest of the world is moving away from coal fired power.
It is hard to imagine a company that would be prepared to build these huge white elephants, just waiting to become stranded assets.
French company Engie has pulled out of Hazelwood and two of Australia’s biggest electricity generators, AGL and Origin, have set timetables for the exit of their coal fired power stations and have been clear they won’t be making any more investments in coal.
Even if finance for these fantasy plants was found, the costs would never be recouped over the lifetime of the assets, considering Australia’s Paris climate commitments.
In contrast, investments in new renewable energy, which has zero fuel cost, will still be useful and productive in decades to come.
Research released by ACF in December shows strong clean energy policies would generate an additional 90,700 jobs across Queensland by 2030.
If Senator Canavan cares about jobs and a healthy future he would stop spruiking last century’s dirty energy and start securingthe tens of thousands of new jobs that flow from strong clean energy policies.
Matthew Rose is an economist with the Australian Conservation Foundation.