The Climate Council has slapped down a call from the “Monash Forum” backbench conservatives to build new baseload power stations using “clean coal” technology.
The Monash forum – a group of twenty Coalition MPs – has released a manifesto pushing for coal to remain as a central pillar in Australia’s energy mix.
The group includes Liberal and National Party MPs, including Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews.
The forum takes its name from WWI General Sir John Monash. Its aim is to encourage the government to “promote the use and construction of coal fired power” in Australia.
‘Coal is always polluting’ – Climate Council
But Climate Councillor Professor Andrew Stock has slammed the idea. He said relying on coal power will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which continue to rise yearly.
“Coal is always polluting, regardless of how it’s branded,” Prof. Stock said. He added that this includes so-called “super critical clean coal” and “carbon capture and storage” technologies.
Prof. Stock also labelled “Hazelwood 2.0”, as an idea belonging in the previous century. The Monash Forum’s manifesto asks why the government doesn’t intervene to replace the defunct Victorian coal station as it plans to do with Snowy 2.0.
It suggests the government could build a new clean coal power station for “no more than $4 billion”.
Renewable energy plus storage: far cheaper than coal
It has become clear, said Prof. Stock, that renewable energy, plus battery storage, is now the cheapest source of power generation.
He also flagged how expensive new coal is, saying other nations “have walked away from this unproven technology”.
Just last year, America’s largest “clean coal” power station scrapped using coal after its construction costs reached over US$7.5 billion.
After seven years of delays, the Kemper clean coal power station in Mississippi was forced to revert to using natural gas.
Monash Forum clean coal push at odds with national state RETs
Australia’s renewable targets, at both state and federal levels, are driving a national transition to clean energy.
A Climate Council fact sheet states that a new clean coal power station produces 80 per cent of the emissions of an old one. By contrast, wind, solar and storage produce no emissions.
The past year has seen record investments in wind and solar power across states and territories. Most states in the NEM have a goal of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. All NEM states have committed to a net zero emissions target by 2050.
“The orderly transition to renewables and storage is now more important than ever,” Prof. Stock said.