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No, new coal is not feasible: on price, reliability or emissions

Tennant Reed comments in The Guardian (24.1.17) on recent statements from federal government ministers supporting the coal-powered energy sector, suggesting that the proposition that new coal plants could be an effective solution to Australia’s energy needs should be treated with scepticism.

‘Are we going to renew Australia’s coal-fired electricity generators? It doesn’t seem likely. Here’s why.

‘Australians want three things from their electricity system: costs they can afford, supply they can rely on, and environmental sustainability. It’s easy to trade off one of these goals against the others, and tough to maximise them all. Right now, wholesale electricity prices are soaring and the reliability and security of supply are under increasing strain in South Australia and soon Victoria.

‘Price changes have been largely driven by the exit of older coal-fired generators and the surging price of fuel for gas-fired generators. The exit of coal and the rise of gas are both accelerated by the increasing role of renewable energy. But our electricity system isn’t yet set up to integrate very high levels of variable renewables. It will take a lot of reform to moderate costs and encourage sufficient flexibility in generation, networks, storage and demand.’

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