When the Callide C4 turbine exploded last year half a million Queenslanders lost power. Outages at our other ageing coal fired power stations forced factories to shut this winter just to keep the lights on.
Despite billions spent on solar and wind, renewables failed to fill the gap. This should not be a surprise. Solar and wind energy are, by definition, weather dependent power systems. They are part time energy solutions. Yet our society needs full time power to function.
Australia has too much weather dependent power. We have been investing in solar and wind at a rate 4 times higher than Europe or North America in per person terms. The result has been some of the highest power prices in the world and an energy market that can not be relied upon.
This makes the Queensland Government's decision to invest $780 million of money they do not have, into another wind farm, completely absurd. The project will fail to fill the gaps in our energy market.
The futility of the whole approach was demonstrated by the backdrop for the Premier's announcement at the Cooper's Gap wind farm. Unfortunately for her almost all of the wind turbines behind her were as still as a Royal Guard, except for one solitary wind blade turning slowly very sadly. A fitting, live demonstration of the futility of more investment in wind power.
But the project even fails on the Government's own figures. The Government trumpets that the new project will create 200 construction jobs but in the fine print you read there will be just 15 permanent jobs. So $780 million for 15 jobs works out at $52 million per job!
The Government says that the wind farm will power 280,000 homes which sounds impressive. But wind farms only operate about a third of the time so those houses will still need power from other sources. And, at $780 million, that's nearly $3000 per home.
But wait there is more. The Queensland Government does not have $780 million. They are going to have to borrow $780 million. So the plan is that we are going to borrow millions more from the Chinese government, to buy Chinese made wind turbines, so that we destroy our manufacturing industry and give China more jobs. Great deal!
Because that will be the outcome here. Europe has already tried the Queensland Government's strategy and it has catastrophically failed. Europe has lost almost a quarter of its aluminium capacity thanks to an over reliance on renewable energy.
You cannot run the Boyne Island aluminium smelter near Gladstone on a weather dependent power system. There are 1000s of Queensland jobs now at risk because of the Queensland Government's ill-thought through energy policy to create just a handful of jobs at largely vacant wind and solar farms.
If the Queensland Government were serious about jobs and reducing carbon emissions they would build coal, gas and nuclear power plants.
We have the energy under our feet to provide abundant energy to all Australians.
This week I joined 8 other Senators to introduce a bill to remove the ban on nuclear energy. Australia has the world's largest uranium reserves. We should use them to power our own manufacturing industry not just others.
Instead we rely on imported solar panels and wind turbines that will cost us much of our manufacturing industry and cost all Australians more for their basic power needs.
These policies do not put our nation first, they do not support our manufacturing base and they only help those countries that seek to do harm to the free and democratic world. It is time to invest in reliable energy again.