THURSDAY 03 NOVEMBER, 2011 |
Scale Of NSW Government Coal Subsidy 'Scandal' Revealed
A report on Climate Spectator reveals the enormous scale of coal subsidisation
in New South Wales and asks a very important question: will the government’s criteria
for solar incentives, that they not cost either consumers or the government, be applied to coal-fired generators?
Cost has always been the cry of those opposed to renewable energy subsidies.
Opposition can often be traced back to fossil fuel and related sectors, which,
as we have reported so many times in the past, have had their faces well and
truly planted in the public trough for decades.
It's been this ongoing gravy train for fossil fuel that has been a major factor
in renewable energy subsidies being needed in the first place. Even the
International Energy Agency says enough
with fossil fuel subsidies already
The bottom line is the era
of cheap energy never really existed
- "cheap" electricity been
paid for in other ways and Australians will keep paying for it for a long time
to come, thanks in part to the environmental destruction caused by the sourcing
and burning of fossil fuels.
Last year, we wrote about plans by the New South Wales government to provide
cheap coal to electricity generators
through the proposed Cobbora coal mine.
Since that time, the Government has gone on to make New South Wales somewhat of
a solar backwater by slashing incentives; citing costs as the primary factor for
solar power in NSW
is still a very attractive way for households to buffer
against spiralling electricity prices, some have been turned off by the
misinformation disseminated and then parroted by elements of the mainstream
The result has been a lose-all-round situation - fewer households able to reduce
their energy costs, emissions are on the increase, what was a blossoming
industry in the state has been undermined and thousands of green
jobs have been lost
Somehow in all this, the issue of fossil fuel subsidies continues to be glossed
Giles Parkinson, writing for Climate Spectator, reports
the Tamberlin inquiry into the NSW energy privatisation reveals coal-fired power
stations in NSW are unable to compete with other power sources unless their coal
is supplied at around one quarter of the cost of export coal.
For them to acquire coal at that price means ongoing subsidisation is needed -
subsidisation for not just a heavily polluting industry, but one unlike solar
that has had decades to stand on its own two feet.
Mr. Parkinson suggests the New South Wales Government should invest heavily in
solar power, financed by the returns that could be gained by freeing up coal for
export. A subsequently strengthened and cost-competitive solar industry will
then be ready to "fall back on when the world finally gets really serious
about cutting greenhouse emissions".
He points out the government-owned Cobbora coal mine will likely be supplying
all of NSW's coal-fired power plants by the end of the decade. At a current
export price of $100 - $120 a tonne and an output of 30 million tonnes; this
coal could generate $3-$3.6 billion annually in export revenue as opposed to the
comparatively paltry sum of $900 million it will receive from coal fired power
generators at the subsidised price.
Under the current strategy, assuming the Cobbora coal mine goes ahead and isn't
sold off (the point has been raised of who would buy a coal mine that doesn't
turn a profit anyway), billions of dollars will be lost from the public purse
each year in New South Wales so electricity generators can have cheap, polluting
coal. While this loss to the community may not show up on power bills, it
will be made up in other ways - and electricity bills will continue to skyrocket
Electricity prices rose by a staggering 17 per cent in July 2010 in NSW and
further increases of between 2 and 10 per cent are expected within the next year
- and that doesn't take into account the impact of the upcoming carbon
Whether it's exporting coal to extract its maximum value in order to finance
renewable energy projects or pulling the subsidisation of coal altogether -
either way, solar suddenly becomes even more attractive and fossil fuel based
power generation is shown for what it truly is - not just filthy, but expensive.
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