New coal-fired power plants too costly, says NSW MP

Member for Cessnock Clayton BarrMember for Cessnock Clayton Barr

NSW Labor MP Clayton Barr says generating electricity from new coal-fired power plants would cost 30 to 40 per cent more than for new wind and solar power facilities.

In an  Advertiser editorial, the Member for Cessnock says building new coal stations will lead to even higher power prices for Australians.

While Barr says the cheapest source of electricity over the past 10 years has been coal, he adds this is because the cost of building the plants has long since been paid off. In the meantime, our coal-fired plants are getting old and being switched off.

Solar cheaper than new coal-fired power plants

NSW MP Clayton Barr says new solar and wind is more affordable than new coal. Image: Pixabay

However, new coal plants would require huge capital outlay that would take years to pay off and push up prices.

A summary of Barr’s claims re new coal-fired power plants

  • Electricity prices rose 60 per cent over the past 7 years, and 20 per cent over the past 18 months.
  • The cheapest source of electricity has been from existing coal plants at $40MWh.
  • Electricity from new coal plants would cost $80-$100MWh. This would likely lead to at least a doubling of electricity prices for consumers.
  • Electricity from new solar or wind power would cost around $60-$70MWh – considerable less than coal.

Meanwhile, according to the Minerals Council, a new ‘clean coal’ plant will cost around $2 billion to build.

However, other sources say this figure would be closer to $4 billion. Private companies are also hesitant to invest heavily in new coal plants due to lack of a clear policy on emissions from the federal government.

Solar providing relief for households

While electricity prices continue to climb, Barr says households with solar installations are experiencing some price relief.

Investing in solar panels does require initial cost, but the prices are continuously falling, which is leading to a rise in solar installations.

Many households and businesses are also installing energy storage batteries, which are also falling in price. This enables them to store unused electricity for use during the evenings or on cloudy days.