A post about electricity generation in Australia. Happy New Year, Aussies. Are you feeling relaxed and comfortable after the Christmas and New Year festivities? My hope for the new year is that a federal election is called in the next couple of weeks.
Even though the government has no majority in the house, I am concerned that this parliamentary term will be dragged out just long enough for a new coal-powered station, underwritten by the Australian taxpayer, to be announced (and contract signed). There was $9 billion of decisions taken but not yet announced in the Mid-Year Economic Outlook statement. I reckon that could go some way to subsiding a new coal-fired power station, don’t you? In fact, in July 2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan estimated the cost of a new coal-fired power station at between $8 billion and $27 billion. The same AEMO report also predicted that new investments in renewable energy and storage, combined with flexible gas power and transmission efficiencies, could provide more than enough capacity to offset the closure of old coal-fired power stations.
In case you missed the news, as you might have done since it came out just before Christmas, the CSIRO and AEMO released a joint report, GenCost 2018 (20 December 2018). In this study, CSIRO and AEMO benchmarked the cost of alternative power sources. It found that new solar and wind, inclusive of 2-6 hours storage, was considerably cheaper than any fossil-fuel alternative. So what financial institution is going to invest in new coal power? Can anyone else see the irony of wanting to reduce the power prices of Australians on the one hand, while on the other hand, making Australians pay for that electricity through the tax system? And, with or without the capital subsidy, the operational cost of providing that electricity will likely be higher than that for renewables. So who pays for that additional cost? Will future investment in renewables be stymied by a new coal-fired power station underwritten by government?
The pessimist in me thinks no matter the timing of the election, that a proposed new coal-fired power station is going to be announced before the election is called. You’ve gotta leave a legacy I suppose. Let’s hope no power company tenders for this opportunity.
So I am already counting down 2019. Let’s get it over with.
Response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt — Anticipate.