The Turnbull Government is talking to Asian investors to build a coal-fired power station, to be potentially backed by the $5 billion Northern Australia Fund.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan told 2GB radio station today that the country shouldn’t turn its back on coal.
“Electricity prices are already too high for people and businesses around Australia,” Mr Canavan said.
“We’ve today asked the ACCC to look at that and see if there’s enough competition in the market.
“But one recipe for having even higher prices would be to turn our backs on the cheapest form of power, which is coal-fired power.
“And we’re lucky enough in this country to have abundant sources of high quality coal.
“Many countries in the world use our coal to establish their own industries and provide cheap power to their people, and it would just be crazy for us to turn our back on that very same resource.”
The news comes as a newspoll revealed 47 per cent of votes supported the use of Federal Government funds to construct the power station.
The Resources Minister recently returned from a trip to Japan, where 70 per cent of coal-powered energy comes from supercritical or ultra-supercritical ‘clean coal’ plants.
“There’s a number of them in Japan and there’s hundreds of them being built around our region. It’s definitely feasible,” he said.
“There was an engineering study by a respected firm, GHD, a few years ago which showed that an 800MW coal-fired power station could be commercially viable in North Queensland.”
He said the power stations would cost “a little bit more” to build, but they would come out at the same cost or cheaper than the older coal-fired power stations operating in Australia right now.
According to Mr Canavan, the government has already received interest from several international and local investors.
“There are people who are interested in selling their technology and there are people that are interested in adopting it and owning a station here,” he said.
“They’re not only from Asia, there are some Australian investors interested too, so they’re the people we’re talking to over the next couple of months.
“It’s obviously a big project to build a coal-fired power station and we need to get it right.
“So we need to have more of those discussions and get the details right and the environment right for people to invest in our country and provide reliable electricity at a cheap price.”
Mr Canavan said a new power station would take about three years to build.