No need for new coal-fired power stations in Queensland

There is no need for new coal-fired baseload generation in North Queensland, according to Minister for Energy Mark Bailey.

Mr Bailey referred to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech at the National Press Club last week, where he called for the construction of new clean coal-fired power stations.

Since then, the PM has formed a new cabinet committee to oversee national policy and has proposed to use some of the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build a new power station in northern Queensland.

Mr Bailey said North Queenslanders would be slugged with higher electricity prices on with the Prime Minister’s “back to the future thought bubble”.

He said industry and energy experts like the Australian Industry Group and Bloomberg New Energy Finance have already criticised the plan saying electricity prices could double if new coal-fired power stations are built.

“With the start of a large scale renewable industry under the Palaszczuk Government, North Queensland is getting its own power stations, with 21st century technology producing affordable, clean energy,” Mr Bailey said.

“North Queensland is benefitting from a boom over the next year and a half as a raft of new clean energy power stations are built and come on line at Kidston, Lakeland, Clare, Collinsville and Mount Emerald.”

The Energy Minister said the $380 million Mount Emerald Wind Farm would generate enough output to power a city the size of Mackay.

“There’s also FRV’s 100MW Clare Solar Farm near Ayr; MSF Sugar’s 24MW bagasse generation plant at its Tableland Mill; Genex’s Kidston 50 MW Solar Project and pumped hydro for baseload, plus Edify’s 58 MW Whitsunday Solar – to name only a few,” he said.

“They are part of more than 680MW of privately funded renewable energy projects currently in the works delivering $1.5 billion of new investment to Queensland and more than 1200 direct jobs, mostly in our regions.

“North Queensland currently has two large-scale hydro facilities – Kareeya and Barron Gorge – which together provide over 150MW of renewable energy capacity.

“A third major hydro facility is proposed for North Queensland through the Kidston Project, which could deliver 250 MW of pumped-storage hydro-electric power to the region.”

Mr Bailey said Queensland also continues to benefit from one of the youngest and least emissions-intensive fleets of coal-fired generators in the nation.

“The important role of baseload generation remains,” he said.

“Given the existing and ample supply of electricity generators, the falling cost of renewables and huge taxpayer cost to construct and run a new coal-fired power station – it’s clear that maintaining the state’s existing coal-generation fleet while adding more renewable energy options to the mix is the right way to take the state’s regional economy forward.

“There is simply no need for new coal fired baseload generation in North Queensland.”

“For three years, when Tim Nicholls was Treasurer, the LNP inflicted 43% electricity

Minister for Northern Queensland Matt Canavan announced the North Australian Infrastructure Fund was open for applications for clean coal electricity projects.

In an ABC radio interview last week, the minister signaled he had received some interest associated with the government’s new commitment to build coal-fired power stations, but would not disclose whom from.

“Look, I’ve received some interest over the past week associated with our commitment to build baseload power stations, including to support clean coal options,” he said.

“It’s also the case that a GHD report a couple of years ago indicated that clean coal-fired power stations could be commercially viable in North Queensland.

“Some might not realise that in North Queensland there is no baseload power station north of Rockhampton.

“And industrial consumers in North Queensland pay often up to double the prices in southern Queensland because of the cost of transporting the electricity to the north.”