Morrison Government’s coal enthusiasm “beggars belief”, Aus Institute

New analysis from the Australia Institute reveals that while the Federal Government is considering taxpayer support for a new coal power station to be built in Queensland, there are currently no coal power plants under construction anywhere else in Australia or North America, and only one plant being built in the Western Europe.

Key Findings: 

  • Around Australia and in other developed regions such as Western Europe and North America, there are virtually no coal-fired power stations being built.
  • The one Western European plant under construction in Germany and nine years behind schedule; the plant was originally set to open in 2011 it is now scheduled for operation in 2020.
  • There are no coal-fired power stations under construction in the United States, Canada or Mexico.
    • The last coal plant built in North America was completed in May 2019, a tiny 17MW combined heat and power plant on the campus of the University of Alaska. 
    • The last pre-construction coal-fired power project, the Holcomb Expansion Project, was cancelled in January 2020.
  • There are no coal-fired power stations being built in Australia. Right to Information requests reveal Government advice that an ultra-supercritical coal plant in North Queensland similar to the plant being proposed would only be viable with high electricity prices and without a significant carbon price.
  • Despite the coal power plant proposed for Queensland being promoted as a ‘clean’ and ‘low emissions’ coal plant, Shine Energy claims it is ‘essential’ for investor confidence that the Government indemnify them against any risk of a future price on carbon.

“Despite the Government’s enthusiasm for coal, around Australia and in other developed regions such as Western Europe and North America, there are virtually no coal-fired power stations currently being built,” said Richie Merzian, climate & energy program director at the Australia Institute.

“It is cruel to raise the hopes of our regional workforce that new construction and power plant jobs are imminent when all the research shows that coal power plants are uneconomic. Across Australia, North America and Western Europe, there is just one coal plant being built — and it is running nine years behind schedule.

“No similar ultra-supercritical coal plant has been built in Australia, a tell sign that such a project is simply uneconomic.

“It beggars belief that policymakers are continuing to bend over backwards trying to prop up our ageing coal industry rather than seek to support industries that are currently facing enormous costs as a result of climate change, including agriculture and tourism.”

The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program’s new report, Coal Comfort by Bill Browne can be downloaded here.