Earlier this year, a coal fired power station in Central Queensland exploded. It was a freak accident and fortunately there was no loss of life or injuries. Thousands of people lost power immediately. Over the coming months while the power station was taken offline as a precaution, Queensland recorded its highest ever electricity prices.
The explosion in Queensland was unplanned but within a year we will start the planned closure of coal fired power stations right across Australia. The aftermath of this year’s explosion shows that we are not ready.
Next year the Liddell power station, in the Hunter, will start coming offline. It is about the same size as the one that exploded in Queensland. The last time we shut a power station of this size, the Hazelwood power station, electricity prices doubled. We are headed for a repeat because no one has yet worked out how to run a solar panel at night.
If you want a vision of the future we are headed for under net zero emissions have a look at Europe. They have shut their coal fired power stations, banned gas development and installed lots of renewable energy. They are now dependent on Vladimir Putin for their energy needs. European energy prices have gone up by more than 6 times, there are lines at petrol stations and they have even run short of food due to a lack of carbon dioxide (which is used in food preparation and is made from natural gas).
When Liddell and other coal fired power stations shut we should replace them with clean coal fired power stations. These produce a third of the carbon dioxide as old coal fired power stations, and they provide the affordable and reliable power we need to keep manufacturing in Australia.
Building coal fired power stations is not inconsistent with a net zero emissions goal. Four countries that have “signed up” to net zero emissions are building 129 coal fired power stations right now. China is building 95 of them despite saying they will meet net zero emissions.
Over time we should look to build reliable power stations that have even lower emissions. We should research hydrogen, battery and other technologies. But none of these technologies can work at scale today.
One low emissions technology that does is nuclear. Of the top 20 nations in the world, only Australia does not have a nuclear power station, or does not use nuclear power imported from another country. Our status as a nuclear outcast is the more remarkable given that Australia has the largest uranium reserves in the world.
Wind energy takes up 250 times more land than nuclear power, and solar takes up 150 times more land. Nuclear doesn’t just have a low carbon footprint, it has a lower footprint full stop.
How can climate change activists want to ban nuclear power? It is simple. The green activists are not about changing the climate, they are about changing our politics.
There is a reason President Xi Jinping is not attending the Glasgow climate summit. He wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face while the woke west commits collective economic suicide. This is the wrong time to be handing the Chinese Communist Party an industrial advantage. We need to invest in reliable power before renewable power.