Jan 08, 2021

Union backs coal-fired power plants against early closure

Union backs coal-fired power plants against early closure Gladstone Power Station

The miners union says the early closure of Queensland power plants presents a real threat to the coal industry.

In Queensland, there are eight 30MW-plus coal fired power plants feeding the National Electricity Market (NEM) including Callide B and C, Gladstone, Kogan Creek, Millmerran, Stanwell, Tarong and Tarong North. 

Another 18 are solar generated and the rest are gas or hydro. 

Coal fired generation has by far the largest nameplate capacity accounting for more than half the 15,500MW state generation capacity.

Energy Security Board  chair Kerry Schott has been quoted as saying Australia’s coal fired powerplants won’t survive to the technical end of their life span.

Mr Schott told News Ltd papers the market would be flooded by cheap renewable generators.

Queensland’s coal-fired power station fleet is among the youngest in the country with the first scheduled to go offline in 2028, said CFMEU mining division state secretary Steve Smythe.

The Energy Security Board will release its annual health of the NEM report next week with findings that concerns that system stability balances the scales on emission reduction and other benefits.

It was time to stop and take a breath said Mr Smythe.

Steve Smythe

“The problem is, as soon as someone suggests talking about what’s it look-like after that, some of the green groups and others see that as an opportunity to say, ‘let’s transition now,’ he said.

“They want to bring it forward, when it’s not a white flag to stop a power generator, it’s about having a conversation. 

“But, I’m yet to hear an alternative, what are these other jobs? That’s something I see probably taking up a lot of space in 2021, straight out … I think that’s going to be a challenge for us.”

The union called on the mine owning fraternity to help educate the community on the contribution of the coal industry, said Mr Smythe.

“Half of the politicians and those that advocate against coal don’t know the difference between them (thermal and metallurgical coal) and I don’t think they really understand the benefits.

“The coal industry itself would probably do a better job actually promoting what its products are used for. 

“New Acland (New Hope Group) did quite well about (the relationship between) its product, and the end user, and how it both provided direct and indirect jobs, and then the flow on from that.”

“The multi-nationals have got a fair bit of work to do to try to demonstrate that they’re doing more for the community and not just their hip pocket, so I would say it’s a challenge.”