Anti-coal politicians have no alternative but to keep lights on

Peta Credlin The Sunday Telegraph April 22, 2023

Too often in politics, the urgent drives out the important. It’s the political equivalent of the captain of the Titanic worrying about the drinks service while the ship is steaming into an iceberg. At no recent election, state or federal, has either big party made security of the power supply an issue, yet without policy change it’s all-but-certain that the lights will start to go out in the absence of electricity rationing. As South Australia discovered in late 2016, during a 24-hour blackout because storms had shut down its wind turbines and taken out the inter connector with Victoria; without electricity, traffic lights don’t work, people get stuck in lifts and no one can actually buy anything given how technology dependent (and cashless) we’ve become.

This week, the Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley will close down and NSW will lose 10 per cent of its power supply. Despite knowing this was coming, there’s no replacement baseload for Liddell.

What’s worse, in just two years’ time, in the absence of government intervention, NSW will lose a further 25 per cent of its power supply when Eraring on Lake Macquarie, the country’s biggest power station, also closes down.

All in the name of averting the “climate emergency” that we’re supposed to be in the grip of despite the fact we’re only around one per cent of the globe’s emissions problem.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, a body hardly given to scaremongering, warns that for several years from 2025, these closures will jeopardise security of supply. AEMO maintains that “firmed renewables”, that’s wind and solar energy with batteries and gas-fired power as back-up, will eventually fill the gap. But the new Hunter Valley gas “peaker” that was supposed to be operational already, is still at least 12 months away. And the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme, that was supposed to be operational last year, is some five times over budget and at least five years behind schedule.

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 project under construction. It was supposed to be operational last year, but is some five times over budget and at least five years behind schedule. Picture: Webuild

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 project under construction. It was supposed to be operational last year, but is some five times over budget and at least five years behind schedule. Picture: Webuild

Imagine for a moment life without electricity: there would be no TV, no refrigeration, and no mobile phones once the batteries had run down. Yet a power supply dependent on wind and solar means that we can’t be sure of keeping the lights on when the breeze drops or the clouds come in because even the biggest batteries can’t keep the power going for more than an hour or two, and because green activism has made new gas fields almost impossible to develop.

I can’t fathom why we are allowing politicians to madly rush to eliminate coal-fired power before there’s a reliable alternative. On the Labor side, they’ve long put climate zealotry ahead of sensible policy that balances the environment with economics as they chase their voter base moving to the Greens.

But what’s the Liberal Party’s excuse? At last year’s federal election, the Coalition offered no real challenge to Labor’s plan to accelerate the end of fossil fuel and refused to even debate nuclear power. And at both last year’s Victorian election and the recent NSW election, the Coalition’s emissions reduction policy was to go even further and faster than federal Labor (and no surprises here, they lost).

But last week, not before time, there were finally a few notes of sanity. In a major speech in Adelaide, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton promised that the Coalition would shun a “cowardly small target strategy”, and “offer Australians a clear choice” with policies that are “necessarily different from those of the Labor Party”.

Dutton said that Labor’s new carbon tax on Australia’s biggest emitters would, among other things, drive the cement industry offshore. There would be “no net benefit to the environment, no net reduction in emissions … only economic self-harm and … a de-industrialising effect … A loss to the Australian economy … a loss of Australian jobs and all we will do is import that cement back into Australia”.

He also pointed out that far from cutting power prices by $275 per household per year, as promised, Labor’s green fiddles were driving energy prices up and up. So rather than the government’s insistence on installing 22,000 new solar panels every day and erecting 40 large wind turbines every month for the next seven years, plus building 28,000 kilometres of new transmission line by 2030, to get renewables to over 80 per cent of the power supply – instead – the Coalition would consider “next generation, zero emission, small and micro-nuclear technologies” so that we could get to net zero and keep the lights on.

That’s the craziest aspect of the Albanese government’s energy policy: the notion that we can readily have multiple nuclear reactors on board submarines at bases just south of Perth, and somewhere on the east coast, but that any nuclear power plant on land would be technologically impossible and an unacceptable safety risk.

All the while, countries like China open more and more new coal-fired generators as we weaken our energy security and standard of living. You can’t make this up.

1/ NSW will lose 10 per cent of its power supply when the Liddell Power Station closes down this week. Picture: Roni Bintang/Getty Images

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: