Think HBR

Coal-fired electricity must be part of Australia’s future energy mix

Greg Evans, Executive
Director – Coal
Minerals Council of Australia
The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) 2016 Electricity Statement of Opportunities report expresses concern about the ongoing reliability of the national electricity market without coal-fired generation.
The report notes that potentially, there will be electricity reliability issues occurring in South Australia from 2019-20 and New South Wales and Victoria from 2025 brought on by a reduction in coalfired generation. In Australia each morning in the major eastern states such as NSW and Victoria coal sourced electricity is typically delivering over 90% of energy requirements and is vital for reliability and the operation of households, schools, hospitals, city train services, industry and areas such as tourism. This is a reality call from AEMO as policy decisions that lead to a shift away from affordable and accessible electricity will have negative economic consequences and impact on current living standards.
The best option to ensure ongoing reliability of the national electricity market is through using that latest high efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal-fired generation plants that provide both a reliable and stable electricity supply and can reduce CO2 emissions by up 50%.
With over 700 HELE units operating in Asia right now and another 1,150 planned or under construction, it is time for Australia to seriously consider new coal-fired technology. The latest coal fired technology is powering fast growing developing nations in our region while also delivering reductions in CO2 emissions. These nations understand that to meet future energy requirements, a mix of energy sources must be available.
Australia does need to consider all electricity generation options and governments should not mandate the composition of the energy mix, rather reliable, low emissions power generation must be provided by the lowest cost energy sources available. That approach will likely result in a mix of energy sources, including gas, renewables, but underpinned by high efficiency low emissions coal generation.