NEG architect warns on coal power

Via The Australian comes Kerry Schott, ESB chairwoman and NEG architect:

“The fact of the matter is the existing coal plants we’ve got — some are low cost and very competitive,” Dr Schott said. “But the problem is that when you go to build a new coal plant and get new coal contracts — unless that is right on top of the mine mouth — you’re very unlikely to be able to compete with a mixture of wind, solar, gas and pumped hydro.

“They’re the cheapest complimentary options at the moment the way the cost curves are.”

“They have been built particularly in Asia, but they are not efficient in terms of economics in Australia. They’re very costly to build. This is very ideological and it’s important for everyone to check the facts of what everyone is saying.”


Without subsidy, coal is dead.

David Llewellyn-Smith


    • “This is very ideological and it’s important for everyone to check the facts of what everyone is saying.” Schott!
      But>>>Clive is putting his money where his mouth is
      Big Mouth>>>Big Money,
      Clive’s style

      • NAh
        the productivity of strayan workers is so far below global par the method is to have the plant built in korea and barged over in modules.
        As in the LNG facilities at gladstone or NWS.
        That nickel plant was shut down cos the indonesians could produce it at much lower cost,
        simple as that
        It will never restart.
        Next up that way to be shut down is the original smelter and alumina facility at gladstone.
        Then the copper refinery at TVL

    • Quote “They have been built particularly in Asia, but they are not efficient in terms of economics in Australia. They’re very costly to build. This is very ideological and it’s important for everyone to check the facts of what everyone is saying.”

      BullS**T!!! both camps are spining their own ideological spruike for rent seeking purposes
      I’m know all about Malcolm’s hydro project and if you want to see a costly project then choose that one. $7-8 billion for 2000MW?? and by the time its finished with all the delays its going to take a decade to build. They have spent at least 12 -18months on the FEED design and then they still have to spend another 12-18mths doing the detailed design before they start digging
      I can get a 2000MW supercritical power plant priced from Korea or Japan in around 3 months.
      Could get it built in around 2yrs.
      Run it for a decade then scrap it. With the savings with the coal plant from not going with hydro put those savings into renewables.

      • Exactly
        And should the plant be designed so the CF boilers can be scrapped and upgraded with nuclear steam generators, then you have a viable proposal, for the next 60 years.
        This snowy hydro will be scrapped before a shovel is turned.
        the murray will probably be dry by then

      • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

        Solar cost 1 million per MW to build…2 Billion for the snowy 2 equivalent.
        Battery (eg south australia) is 50 million for 100 MW (e.g. 1 billion for snowy 2 equivalent).
        So solar battery is half the price – is off the shelf so less construction risk, etc.
        and can be distributed for lower transmission costs, or delivered in stages as solar gets cheaper…
        and no environmental issues of digging up the snowy mountains.

        Snowy 2 was Turnbulls instant idea.

      • Clive Palmer owns it. Maybe he wants to build a power station to use his coal? and no he definitely isn’t as smart as Schott.

      • From their website .. Its about Clive creating a market for his Galilee basin licenses. i.e.

        Waratah Coal is a privately owned Australia Coal Exploration and Coal development company.

        Waratah Coal and associated company Fairway Coal hold extensive Exploration permits for Coal within the rich mineral basins of Laura, Bowen, Galilee and Surat.

        Waratah Coal has taken a large exploration position within Queensland, and currently hold over 10,000 km² of tenements within the Galilee Basin including: 15 Exploration Permits for Coal, a Mineral Development Licence and Mining Lease application 70454 and 100031. Within these tenements, Waratah has proven up JORC coal resources of 7.2 Billion tonnes and JORC coal reserves of 1.1 Billion tonnes. The quality of these coal resources and reserves is superior to most international thermal coals with an energy rank of 6350 kcal/kg on an air dried basis. The Galilee Basin has a strike length well over 500 km, stretching from Springsure in the south to Pentland in the north, with Waratah Coal’s projects located within the heart of the basin.

        its Adani all over again.

      • So Clive doesnt have a mine, nor approval for one
        nor a power station, nor approval for one
        so what are we gunna do this cyclone season, when solar doesn’t work,
        nor wind.
        nor waves
        nor hot air

      • Thats the point its chicken and egg. Clive’s spent to long eating and not enough time reading.

        As part of an integrated system you’ll cope just like you have for the last x years. Burying your head in the sand isn’t the way to cheap reliable clean power. As the last 10 years have shown we just need some adults to take charge and update our grid for the new world we are in. If we had chosen sensibly we’d have another export sector, and more hi tech and less dirt.

        Sadly we are wasting our HUGE comparative advantage in energy production. Best Solar resource in the world. check. One of the best if not best wind resources along our southern coast. check. What fools our leaders and sycophants are.

      • Some time ago, before he lost his mind and was deported we had a galah on here who was all for HVDC
        then the bass strait interconnector blew up,
        Cost both parties many millions and loss of credibility.
        so using galah philosophy, why cant adani build a powerstation up there and run the juice to india via hvdc
        and remember that adani mine is only feasible if it is built with indian labour, run by robots, and destroys the artesian basin.
        So big clive musta thoughta that.

      • @3ris
        The issue that I have with this claim is that, if it were economically viable an entrepreneur (or several) would have set up their own operations by now — that’s what capitalism is all about. I listened to a presentation by an outfit that was based in Nth QLD and were setting up the ‘holy trinity’ of renewables i.e. wind, solar and hydro — all in one area — but they were heavily subsidised by the QLD or Federal govt and they were looking for further private money to fund the build-out. This says, loud and clear, that the ‘economics’ have not yet reached the critical point. Kerry Schott can make all the claims she wants but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so to speak.

        Unless, the Govt is deliberately placing roadblocks in the way of the private sector, then these claims don’t hold water. Period.

  1. Strewth!!! Here we go again – think up some fantasised number for the rate at which renewables are going to go down forever then let’s compare that to other sources of energy while at the same time ignmoring the fact that there is NO storage currently available for serious industrial usage.

    • Flawse, this is about building another CF power station. You don’t need industrial storage if demand management occurs across the network through renewable energy installation (industrial and retail) and storage at the local level. As always, Australia is miles behind the rest of the world. The US utilities are already using localised storage to even out power supply so that they don’t have to build more infrastructure. The solutions is already cheaper than gas peakers, and significantly cheaper than a CF power plant. The battery provider is already piloting the recycling of electric vehicle batteries to use in these commercial storage units. The batteries are no longer good enough for the cars because they only work at 80% of original capacity, but work fine in a demand management scenario where they can be used for charge/discharge for another 10 years.

      If you can afford it, and the ability to buy is becoming easier all the time, residential solar is a no-brainer. Commercial solar is also a no-brainer but complicated by the tension between the CEO, who wants to spend capex to generate revenue, and the CFO who wants to spend capex to generate opex savings. The CEO will almost always win. Nevertheless, in the time it would take to construct another CF plant, renewables penetration will have significantly increased, as will residential storage and some commercial storage. This will be enough to change the usage landscape such that existing infrastructure, renewables and gas peakers will be able to handle demand.

      The most sensible thing a government could do is focus on the ridiculous gas export situation and use gas as a transition fuel. Something the Houses has been highlighting for quite some time now. But coal is definitely a Norwegian Blue.

    • WW, check out the taxis in Sydney and Melbourne. Several European cities now have charging points for – drum roll – electric cars. They are everywhere, except maybe on the Gold Coast because of the time warp.

      In terms of forward thinking Australia is the arse at the arse-end of the world, hence we think coal-fired power stations are great because we have lots of the stuff in the ground owned by Chinese and Indian corporations. And we have lots of gas that we ship to Asia for prices lower than we can buy for here. And we have acres of cheap real estate outside the cities that can house large solar farms in one of the sunniest places on the planet. But no, “fackin dig it up and burn it mate, eh”.

      Still, we’ve always got the “next big thing” almost ready to come from South East Queensland. Is it nearly ready?

      • Say a tesla battery runs at 100Kwh, degrade it to 70 at the end of its life
        how many do you need to produce 1 megawatt hr??
        what is the round trip efficiency of a degraded battery re power storage
        less than 70%. ??

      • Dunno, don’t care. There is a German white paper on converting car batteries for residential storage that highlights the pros and cons, but it’s a couple of years old. Let me know how you go with it. There is also a US storage business already trialling on a pre-commercial basis. I’ll try and re-explain my original point. If we were just a teensy-weensy bit more forward thinking in our approach, we wouldn’t need a new CF power station, which is what the article relates to. Re-using car batteries is just one part of taking the pressure off at the periphery to ensure that the economics wouldn’t work for coal-fired power, unless of course it is subsidised – like all forms of power generation are. There are plenty of other more sustainable solutions that combined under – and I know it’s sacreligeous in Aus to say this, but – “a plan”, would negate the need for some fat Queensland mouthpiece to remind us all of how great he is in building a big power station after his big dinosaur. Or a Prime Minister that in a former life brings a piece of coal into parliament. Or a Barrier Reef fund run by the companies that are destroying it. This place is going backwards, and we are fast becoming the laughing stock of the world. The last thing we need is more coal-fired power, especially with a gazillion litres of gas and a f’kin windy desert. Honestly, no wonder China is finding it so easy to take over the country, we are dead-set stupid.

      • its not so much being stupid, we are all stupid at some stage
        but not caring is your issue
        that rules you out of consideration,
        you are on the high road to a wasted life.

      • I don’t care about the Tesla degradation as it’s not my area of expertise, there are people far smarter in the room who can work that out. You seem to have conflated this with me not caring about the issue. I think it is pretty obvious that I do. And you don’t need the whole industrial world switching to storage to make new coal-fired power stations non-starters. You only need enough to take the stress out of the network, combined with some sensible policy on gas (which admittedly is an oxymoron in the current political age) and the whole idea of a new coal-fired power station becomes laughably antiquated. Anyway, since you have deduced that I have wasted my life from comments on a blog, I’ll back out gracefully and bit you adieu.

    • Its worse than that – they are likening solar with some sort Moores Law… H&H likes to include it because he thinks it gets some sort of rise.

      Just because you print it, doesn’t make true!!! The very essence of Fake News. Doesn’t realise its just hurting the brand…

    • Came across this a while ago, maybe true , may not
      Because we need to change our way of life if we are to keep it.
      from about midway through the article;
      Climate scientists, such as David Karoly at Melbourne University, note that when other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are included, the situation is even bleaker.

      The so-called carbon dioxide-equivalent level that takes in the full global warming impact is now about 485 ppm.

  2. Zen Energy’s Sanjeev Gupta seems to think he can use Renewables for Whyalla, is that industrial enough for you?

    Solar both PV and Thermal, Wind, Hydro both normal and Pumped. Theres plenty of solutions but plenty of ideology and old money in the way.

  3. I like how MB just assumes that prices will drop 10%-20% for 5 years for solar + battery (that’s a 41%-68% drop) . Drops in the prices of technology are from economies of scale in manufacturing and advances in the manufacturing process.

    There is a limit to this. Prices won’t keep dropping indefinitely. MB hasn’t established that there are additional efficiency gains to be made.

    Also this makes the assumption that batteries can simply be scaled up for industrial use. It cannot with the current technology.

    The most efficient way to store large amounts of power is still to literally push water uphill. This is why billions are being spent on R&D into concepts like super-capacitors (and no, the battery in South Australia doesn’t count. It is only for even out power fluctuations. It is not providing base load power).

    This is not the first time that MB has ventured into the realm of engineering and manufacturing and making claims about things it doesn’t fully understand.

    • Batteries don’t need to scale, their job will be FCAS services, and keeping the lights on for an hour or less. Pumped Hydro takes the medium or longer term role of matching demand. Generating hydrogen/ammonia or other “fuels” provide demand for otherwise spilled generation, that can then be used in transport or as a dispatchable source.

      Far to much ideology in these debates. When its just a transition from Analogue to digital. With our solar and wind resources we could be the factory of the world, just need to find some leaders not being paid by the oligarchs to preserve the status quo.

      • So BIG CLIVE is the status quo???
        every other generator in the joint and the network is on its last legs.
        some time back a generator sold for $1.

    • There is a limit, but the cost curve right now indicates we haven’t hit the limit yet. What drives the research in the battery technology right now is not industrial battery or electric cars : but battery for smart phones.

  4. There is a very interesting program on Netfix called “Search for the super battery” which everyone here should watch.

    • So how about we all manage to live on 80% of our energy
      then the frigging govt
      Doubles the population??
      All because of houses and the ponzi.
      the process of wiping out the economy is well past tipping point and for water food and energy.
      the outcome is assured, just the timing now.