PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s comments that both coal and natural gas have a significant role to play in Australia’s energy future.
“We have an abundance of coal, gas, sun and wind resources, not to mention uranium. Yet, our energy is among the most expensive in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development,” Turnbull said this week.
He also stressed that coal and natural gas were key to providing the country’s baseload power needs.
The PM has warned that state bans on onshore gas development, such as those imposed by the Victorian government, will result in more expensive and less reliable energy, adding that without gas or substantial new forms of energy storage, baseload power would be unavailable to support the intermittent renewables like wind and solar.
States are setting huge renewables targets, far beyond that of the national renewable-energy target, with no consideration given to the baseload power and storage needed for stability.
“South Australia – now with the most expensive and least secure energy has had its wake-up call – one storm blacked out the entire state.”
Turnbull also noted that more focus should be given to clean-coal technologies. He noted that, despite some A$590-million having been invested on research and development of clean coal technologies since 2009, Australia does not have one modern high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power station, and no carbon capture and storage.
“So here's the current picture; old, high-emission coal-fired power stations are closing down as they age, reducing baseload capacity. They cannot simply be replaced by gas, because it's too expensive, or by wind or solar because they are intermittent.
“Storage has a very big role to play, that's true. But we will need more synchronous baseload power and 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,” Turnbull said.
MCA executive director for coal Greg Evans said the significant economic expansion occurring in Asia is heralding a large-scale build of clean, efficient coal-fired generators.
“The latest International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook forecasts that demand for coal in Asia will grow at 0.8% a year to 2040, with Indian demand growing at 3.6% a year and across South East Asia at 4.4% a year over the same period.”
Evans said Australia’s energy policy must reflect the reality that the country needed a genuine mix of electricity generation options that deliver affordable and reliable power.