Coal’s back in black! Why Anthony Albanese is set to fire up more fossil-fuel power plants as the cost of living soars – and the Greens are NOT happy
- Australia will need to fire up more coal power stations to combat energy crisis
- It comes after new PM Anthony Albanese campaigned on climate change action
- But the Prime Minister said he was not phased by using more coal temporarily
- The Greens have blasted the plan and called for massive renewable investment
The Prime Minister blamed the Coalition for Australia’s energy crisis, insisting the former government failed to properly invest in renewables and the electricity grid during its nine years in office.
About a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired electricity production is offline due to planned and unplanned outages, while the east coast shivers through a freezing winter.
With gas supplies dear and energy bills set to skyrocket, Resources Minister Madeleine King on Tuesday called on coal power stations to increase their output as soon as possible.
About a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired electricity production is offline due to planned and unplanned outages. Pictured: A power station in Victoria
Speaking in Darwin on his way back from a trip to Indonesia, Mr Albanese denied this move contradicted his lofty climate ambitions.
Asked if he is ‘uncomfortable’ with relying on more coal power, the Prime Minister replied: ‘Not at all’ and later added: ‘Coal is part of our mix right now’.
About 60 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal, 32 per cent from renewables and eight per cent from gas.
Labor wants cheaper renewable sources to supply 82 per cent of electricity by 2030, claiming this will save households $275 a year by 2025, and $378 by 2030.
Mr Albanese admitted that international factors including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were driving up energy prices but said Australia is less able to deal with the shock due to the Coalition’s energy policies.
‘One of the problems that has occurred here is a failure of investment because the former government had 22 energy policies, and didn’t land one,’ he said.
‘You don’t have a grid that’s fit for purpose in the 21st century.’
Anthony Albanese (pictured today) has declared he is fine with firing up more coal power despite campaigning on a plan to phase down fossil fuels to fight climate change
Mr Albanese wants renewables to supply 82 per cent of electricity by 2030. Pictured: Williamdale Solar Farm, 35km south of Canberra
Labor’s Rewiring the Nation plan will bring forward $20billion worth of grid upgrades identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator.
‘We didn’t make this up. This is what the experts… (were) recommending to the Government, and nothing happened,’ he said.
‘Nothing happened for nine years. And this is a direct consequence of that.’
He added: ‘There are international factors, but it’s also the factor of a failure of the former government to actually have an energy policy.’
Mr Albanese said if the grid was ‘fit for purpose’ and could take in more renewable energy then ‘you would have a real alleviation on pressures that are in place right now.’
The Greens have blasted Labor’s call for more coal and insisted a rapid investment in renewables is the way to go.
Leader Adam Bandt said Australia should follow the example of the ACT which has generated all of its electricity from renewables since 2020.
While the east coast braces for soaring prices, power bills in the ACT are set to fall from July 1, providing an annual saving to households of $23.
Greens leader Adam Bandt (second left) insists that burning more coal is not the answer to rising power prices
The ACT is currently paying less than a quarter of the NSW market price for its electricity because it relies on solar and wind and is less vulnerable to global price shocks.
There is global pressure on gas prices as nations reject abundant Russian gas following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Germany has drafted laws to prevent coal power stations destined for the scrapheap from being axed, ordering them to be kept on standby instead.
Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic also plan to burn more coal as a temporary measure while they reduce reliance on Russian gas, and the UK is drilling for more gas in the North Sea.
AGL currently has three coal power stations in NSW and Victoria either offline or on reduced capacity due to scheduled and unscheduled maintenance issues.
Origin’s Eraring power station, the largest in NSW, has also been crippled by coal production cutbacks at its neighbouring conveyor belt-connected coalmine.
It’s had to buy coal on the open market as prices surge because of the global crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine, which forces electricity prices up further.
Queensland’s Callide coal power station is also offline after an explosion at the plant, creating a perfect storm just as the bitter cold snap hit Australia’s east coast.
The maintenance work at affected power stations is not expected to be completed until July at the earliest while Callide is out until December, but Labor is demanding the work is now fast-tracked.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen will meet his state and territory counterparts on Wednesday to discuss solutions as the Albanese government considers short- and longer-term solutions to take pressure off prices.
About a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired electricity production is currently offline while the east coast shivers through a freezing winter amid soaring price rises