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The Australian Clean Energy Ruse

Posted by feww on May 17, 2009

Australia plans to build 1000 megawatts solar power plant—world’s largest

Australia will invest A$1.4 billion (US$1.05 billion) to build a 1,000 MW solar power station, the world’s largest solar plant,  Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said today.

Rudd called the country’s abundant sunshine  “Australia’s biggest natural resource,” saying that the project would help the country become a leader in renewable, clean energy.

“The government plans to invest with industry in the biggest solar generation plant in the world, three times the size of the world’s current biggest, which is in California,” Rudd said.

“Why are we doing this? We are doing it in order to support a clean energy future for Australia, we’re doing it to boost economic activity now and we’re doing it also to provide jobs and much needed opportunities for business as well.”

“We don’t want to be clean energy followers worldwide, we want to be clean energy leaders worldwide.” Rudd said.

But how would yours be any bigger than ours or half dozen other countries’?

A broad view of parabolic trough solar collectors at Kramer Junction in the Mojave desert in California. Image source.

Currently, Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) is the world’s largest solar energy generating facility, which consists of nine solar power plants, located in Mojave Desert, Calif., generating a combined total of about 355 MW [Kramer Junction (150 MW), Harper Lake (160 MW) and  Daggett (44 MW).]  However by the time the proposed Australian plant is commissioned, there would be at least another half dozen other plants throughout the world with 1,300 MW or larger capacities.

Rudd said the project is a part of  a wider A$4.65 “green energy” initiative by his government that would allow Australia to become a full member of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Great! But what’s Australia doing with its large reserves of coal? And how does that make it any cleaner on a global level if someone else burned the Australian coal instead?

Australia has 5% of global reserves of black coal (~ 40 Gigatons, Gt) and 24% of global reserves of brown coal (~37.5 Gt). With a total annual production of about 390 Mt, Australia is the world’s largest exporter with about 30% of world total coal export trade (250Mt) and nearly 5% of world consumption.

Coal also comprises Australia’s largest single export (~ $A23 billion), an industry with up to 150,000 employees, and is used to generate about 85% of Australia’s electricity.

With a population of about 21.5 million (0.3% of world population, ranking 51st globally), Australia accounts for 2.5% of the world’s energy production (world’s eighth largest producer), with coal being its main source of energy production (Coal 54%, Uranium 28%, Natural gas 10%, Oil 6% and Renewables less than 2%) . [Source: Australian Coal Association and others.]

The proposed solar-power plant network would serve to free more of the Australian coal, making it available for export. This makes perfect economic sense, especially as the price coal is expected to increase.

As for the GHG emissions from burning Australian coal, who gives a damn! No, really, since when did the Australians gave a Sydney shrimp about rest of the world, or health of the planet?

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10 Responses to “The Australian Clean Energy Ruse”

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  9. feww said

    Giant $70 billion coal deal could make Clive Palmer Australia’s richest person


  10. feww said

    A bid to give more legitimacy to the Australian Clean Energy Ruse:

    Green activists protest at Australia power plant

    CANBERRA (Reuters) – Environmental activists have shut down a coal digger at an Australian power station that provides 8 percent of the country’s coal-reliant electricity market, to protest against government climate policies.

    Greenpeace said the dawn protest on Thursday by around 14 activists at the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria state was the latest part of an ongoing campaign to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions.

    “Australia is digging itself into a hole. By phasing out coal and investing in renewable energy, we can protect our environment and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Greenpeace campaigner Simon Roz.

    Hazelwood, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, Victoria, is a brown coal fueled power station with a 1,600 megawatt capacity, and supplies up to 25 percent of the state’s base load electricity.

    Hazelwood relies on brown coal deposits from the nearby Morwell open cut mine.

    Majority owned by the UK-based company International Power and scheduled to be decommissioned by 2009 due to its excessive carbon dioxide emissions, the state government in 2005 extended its life until 2031.

    Greenpeace said the station was one of the world’s most polluting, producing 19 million tons of greenhouse gases every year, equal to the total caused by all 1.4 million households in the state capital Melbourne.

    Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, is responsible for about 1.5 percent of global carbon emissions, but is one of the highest per-capita polluters because of its reliance on coal for 80 percent of electricity needs.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently delayed by a year the start of carbon emissions trading designed to cut the country’s greenhouse gas footprint, saying economic turmoil meant the regime would now begin in mid-2011.
    © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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