Attack on both climate and tax-payers’ money – subsidies to coal power
Why coal-fired power handouts would be an attack on climate and common sense
The evidence suggests the push for government help is an attempt to squeeze money out of unwise investments made at the end of the mining boom, Guardian, 9 Feb 17, Michael Slezak, The recent coordinated push for new coal-powered electricity generators in Australia comes as the industry is on its last legs.
The intensified push for government handouts can be seen as a last-ditch attempt for the coal industry to squeeze some money out of the unwise investments it made at the end of the mining boom.
Here are the facts and figures that point towards that conclusion.
The coal industry knows that to stop runaway climate change all coal-powered generators need to close
Australia joined 174 countries and the European Union in 2015, signing the Paris agreement. In doing so, Australia agreed to do its part in keeping the global temperature rise “well below” 2C.
It also commits countries to achieving net-zero emissions “in the second half of this century”.
According to the International Energy Agency, OECD countries such as Australia need to shut down almost all of their coal-fired power stations by about 2035.
And the rest of the world will need to phase out coal power by 2050, it says. [excellent graph on original] With coal-fired power stations taking up to a decade to build, and designed to last 30 or 40 years, building new ones now is obviously inconsistent with those commitments.
In particular, Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a commitment that is not strong enough to limit global warming at 2C and will need to be “ratcheted up”.
But the Australian government recently released projections of the country’s carbon emissions showing that current policies are going to cause emissions to rise to 2030, not drop, leaving Australia overshooting that commitment by a long way. [graph on original] …….
New coal is the most expensive form of energy
While the proponents of coal talk about coal power being “cheap and reliable”, they are wrong on both fronts. Coal is now the most expensive form of new power. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of energy from a new coal power plant would be $134-$203/MWh.
That’s more expensive than wind, solar or highly efficient combined-cycle gas (costing $61-$118/MWh, $78-$140/MWh and $74-$90/MWh, respectively)………
The global coal industry recently saw its biggest player, Peabody, go bankrupt in the US. If companies are forced to take write-downs for these projects by admitting they will never go ahead, it could mean the end for some of the companies.
At his National Press Club address last week, Malcolm Turnbull appeared to point to this as the reason he is now looking to subsidise the most expensive and dirtiest form of energy, saying that it could help our mining industry. He said: “As the world’s largest coal exporter, we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art, clean, coal-fired technology.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/07/why-coal-fired-power-handouts-would-be-an-attack-on-climate-and-common-sense
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