Treasurer pulls plug on HELE power station option

The Federal Government has pulled the plug on a proposal for a coal-fired power station in north Queensland as an expensive and inefficient option for additional electricity generation.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison told The Australian Financial Review today: “But let’s be real about it. These new HELE plants would produce energy at an estimated two and a half times the costs of our existing coal-fired power stations. They would also take up to around seven years to set up.”

Queensland Treasurer and acting Energy Minister Curtis Pitt acknowledged Mr Morrison’s honesty and said he agrees a coal-fired power station would increase electricity prices and provide no short-term solution to Federal Government failures in the National Electricity Market.

“The LNP and Tim Nicholls don’t care about electricity prices paid by Queenslanders,” Mr Pitt said.

“It just does not make economic sense to spend up to $3 billion of taxpayer money to subsidise this expensive form of energy that industry players such as AGL consider to be unbankable – when there are cheaper and cleaner alternatives that can be delivered in a shorter period of time.

“The last time the LNP were in office they wanted a fire sale of our coal-fired power stations, they mothballed the Swanbank E gas-fired power station and they refused to develop large-scale solar projects.”

According to the latest data by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), modernising Australia’s coal-fired power stations with high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) technology is the key to resolving the energy policy trilemma.

The latest analysis released by the MCA, Meeting the Paris target with HELE coal, said replacing ageing coal-fired power stations expected to close in coming years with HELE plants could deliver annual emissions reductions of 24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases by 2030.