From coal to Copenhagen

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With Australia being a huge exporter of coal, the government seems set on the adoption and use of clean-coal technology. But, is time running out for coal?

“I grew up to a Rolling Stones song that said, “Time is on my side. Yes it is.” For our coal industry, sadly, it is not. In fact, if the US experience is anything to go by, time is fast running out. Projects to build new coal-fired power stations are being abandoned from Florida to Utah. Money is pouring in for renewable energy and legislation is being enacted to support it.

The only long-term hope for coal in the US is clean coal. The same is true for Australia. Australia needs to take a long-term, 20-year view on energy and not just look at the increased demand projections for coal for the next five or 10 years. We need to look at what the energy mix will be in 2030.

The clear and present danger for Australia’s coal industry is, unless there is a powerful push to see clean-coal technology developed and implemented, the traditional markets for its product will start slowly shutting down as green energy becomes more price-competitive and public policy continues to demand greener outcomes”
(“Coal on the outer as US goes green” – The Australian, September 5th 2009)

“There’s an irony in the rushed construction of a new security fence around the Hazelwood power station, in anticipation of a community protest this weekend. The Government, it seems, is more in interested in protecting Hazelwood from protesters, than protecting our climate from Hazelwood.

Victoria has been shamed as the least climate-friendly state, running three of Australia’s four dirtiest power stations. And Hazelwood is one of the dirtiest in the developed world, scheduled to close this year but in 2005 given a lifeline by the State Government to 2031. The timing is significant, because it reflects the climate policy strategy of the major parties: hang on with dirty coal till 2030-35, and hope that by then carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will work. For now, pour money into CCS research, but stall on serious emission-reduction strategies”
(“Punting on coal is a loser, but try telling the Government” – The Age, September 10th 2009)

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