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Big win: Turnbull wasted billions, but now backs super critical coal, copies skeptics 5 years later

Back in 2011 Anton Lang, Tony Cox, and I wrote here about why Australia would be better off with super critical hot coal generators (which China already uses, and which even Indonesia will get before us). Not only do we get cheap reliable power, but it would be a better way to reduce our emissions (if we want to pretend to change the weather).

Now, finally, in 2017 Malcolm Turnbull is saying the same thing as the skeptics he mocked years ago. This is how the “climate meme” dies, one unacknowledged step at a time. Gradually all the skeptical positions get picked up, years later and after burning billions at the altar of “climate control”. This is a big win for skeptics, but don’t expect Turnbull or the ABC to be honest enough to say so. This marks a major turning point in the discussion about coal in Australia which has mostly never got past the “coal is dying” and the “stranded assets” inanity which implied that coal has no future and our massive coal reserves were useless instead of being our major export industry.

Last week Tony Abbott, former PM, called for stop to subsidies for wind power – an end to the RET (Renewables Energy Target) certificates which stop normal competition in the electrical market and force us all to buy a power we don’t want at prices far higher than we need to pay. This week, with no acknowledgement that Tony Abbott is right, Turnbull does a major about face.  He calls this “cleaner coal” but it has nothing to do with the futile fantasy of carbon capture. It is the newer high tech coal which Greens will hate (because it works and it solves the fake problem they pretend to worry about).

Turnbull backs cleaner coal for hitting renewable target

As revealed in The Australian yesterday, research commissioned by the Turnbull government has estimated the country’s emissions would be cut by up to 27 per cent if coal-based power generation ran on “ultra-super-critical-technology” used in other parts of the world.

Carried out by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the research showed emissions would be reduced even further — by up to 34 per cent — if the technology now in development was adopted across Australia.

Turnbull attacks wind power now, but he didn’t warn about that train wreck coming as skeptics did:

Mr Turnbull acknowledged coal would be part of the world’s energy mix “for a very, very long time” as he attacked the Labor state of South Australia, which generates 40 per cent of its energy through wind, for having the “most expensive and the least reliable electricity” in the country.

If Turnbull had said this in 2009 he would have been PM in 2010 and we would have saved billions and have cheap electricity now:

“We are the biggest coal exporter in the world. If anybody, if any country has a vested interest in demonstrating that clean coal and cleaner coal with new technologies can make a big contribution to our energy mix and at the same time reduce our emissions in net terms — it’s us,” Mr Turnbull said.

Here is Turnbull pretending to be pragmatic about energy, but the only thing Turnbull is somewhat pragmatic about is his own political position:

“Our approach, and my approach, to energy is absolutely pragmatic and practical … Renewables have a role. Fossil fuels have a role. Every type of energy — storage, all of it — has an important role to play.”

The new coal plants cut emissions by 50% “compared with existing plants” (presumably the oldest brown power stations) and are as “clean” as gas plants says the Minerals Council of Australia using the Department of Industries projections. Bear in mind that this in itself is hugely important — wholesale coal power is 3 to 4 c KWhr.  (I don’t know the cost of new “hot” coal power because those big plants cost a lot to build). But gas is 7 to 8 c per KWhr.  More coal power means much cheaper electricity.

How much do we thank Donald Trump for this transformation? A whole lot. The writing is on the wall, Australia will lose more jobs, profits and companies to the US if they have cheap energy, and that is one of Trumps absolute priorities.  Now if we can just kill off the RET.


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