COAL BACK ON FRONT BURNER Feds open to energy solutions
A FEDERAL frontbencher has backflipped on his claims the Turnbull Government is not considering funding a new coal- fired baseload power station in the North, instead refusing to rule out the possibility of the new infrastructure.
Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy, who denied there was a division within the party over coal- fired power plants, yesterday said the government remained “technologically neutral”.
“There is no division,” he said. “While there are no specific plans for new coal- fired power plants the Government remains technologically neutral – we would support technology that keeps the lights on at an affordable price and also lowers emissions.”
It comes after the frontbencher told Sky News on July 11 that the Government was not considering new coal- fired power stations.
Mr Laundy said he was “technology agnostic”, as was the Government.
“Minister ( Josh) Frydenberg addressed this point perfectly this ( yesterday) morning on ABC with Fran Kelly; he stated; “We’ve asked the Australian Energy Market Operator to tell us how much dispatchable power is needed. If a reverse auction is one means to ensure that power is into the system, and if that’s coal, or if that’s gas, or if that’s renewables with storage, or a combination of the above, then we will be prepared to support it’,” he said. “We agree entirely with this approach.”
Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who also denied there was a division in the Coalition over the issue, said the Government was open to the possibility of a new coal- fired power plant in Australia and North Queensland.
“The Prime Minister was very explicit, he has said we are very open to coal,” he said.
“The fact is that there’s not a specific proposal on the table right now.
“There’s no doubt that we have a state Labor Government who won’t even consider it, it does ward people off.”
Mr Canavan said there was also the possibility of retrofitting existing coal plants.
“We could look at installing the latest boiler or turbine technologies on to those existing plants,” he said. “But there’s nothing in North Queensland ( to retrofit) – we’re talking about building a new one.”
Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the Government was technology neutral and saw a vital role for coal today and well into the future.
“We are looking for the most cost- effective sources whether that be clean coal, renewables with storage, gas or hydro,” he said. “The Turnbull Government’s priority is affordable and reliable energy for Australian households and businesses, while meeting our international commitments. Our approach is technologyneutral and non- ideological – we are guided by engineering and economics.”
Genex managing director Michael Addison, whose company has proposed a largescale solar and hydro project at Kidston, said that while a new coal- fired baseload power station was “incredibly expensive,” Queensland could “mix them together”.
“Coal has been the bedrock of Australia’s energy system,” he said. “Solar and wind is not baseload power, the only thing you can replace coal with is gas. I think what you’ll find is there will be reluctance to invest in new coal- fired power stations.
“There would have to be a drift towards some other alternatives like gas turbines and other renewables.”