The level of ‘stupid’ engulfing Canberra has hit new heights. No matter what problem with energy policy is raised, some politicians instantly shout “coal!”
Businesses and householders across the country are screaming at the government for relief from spiraling electricity bills. A broad and unlikely coalition of bodies representing industry, energy users, farmers and social services have all come together to call for policy certainty around a low emissions electricity grid.
But the government is ignoring their pleas and are instead obsessed with whether the coal industry is being properly looked after.
New wind and solar farms are very beneficial for regional areas, bringing income to farmers, construction jobs and community funds. This means keeping families in the area, keeping kids in the schools and players in the sporting teams.
If coal actually was the cheapest source of power you could almost understand the government support. But it’s not. Wind power is. Electricity from wind farms has been contracted for as low as $52 per megawatt hour. Power from a new coal-fired station starts at $100/MWh and increases from there.
And because it’s impossible to burn coal without emitting vast amounts of climate wrecking greenhouse gases it simply can’t be something we depend on anymore.
Australia has a fleet of out-of-date coal power stations, 75 per cent of which are past their design life. If we choose expensive replacements such as coal our bills will continue to be high. If we replace them with cheap power from wind and solar farms, we have a shot at bringing bills down.
Coal doesn’t stack up economically or environmentally, so it’s time to stop wasting precious time and money on protecting this un-investable industry.
Andrew Bray, National Coordinator for Australian Wind Alliance.