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Coal-Fired Power Station the Best Option Industry Body Says



By Campbell Gellie

July 4, 2017 - A flash low emissions coal-fired power station is the most cost effective way to bring down Australia's rising power prices while being environmentally conscious a report released today has revealed.

Energy sector consultants Solstice Development Services and engineers GHD examined the cost of building a new High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) or Ultra Super Critical (USC) coal generation in Australia.

The findings released in the 550 page report, commissioned by Australian coal producers industry body Minerals Council Australia, found that HELE or USC was the cheapest way to generate electricity while ticking the criteria of being reliable, secure, affordable and sustainable.

This was judged against today's prices and projects costs as at 2030.

Minerals Council Australia said the current cost of constructing was $2 billion for a 1000MW capacity coal-fired station.

This is believed to be at least $1 billion under what was current seen as the cost of a low emissions coal-fired power station.

"The report considers this against the backdrop of coal plant closures expected over the next two decades due to ageing assets while recognizing the need to ensure the most affordable and reliable technology is adopted as a replacement,” the council said.

"(The report) notes electricity prices paid by manufacturers have doubled in the past decade and that USC coal is able to lower the cost of generation across the National Energy Market given current wholesale electricity prices.”

But the scope of the proposed power station that GHD looked into would rule-out a new one being built in central or northern Queensland.

That's because its scope was to redevelop an existing power station that was heading towards retirement, using existing dedicated water resources and buying lower cost specialized equipment from Asia.

"Coal fired generation is the cheapest and most reliable electricity source in Australia available 24 hours a day, every day,” the council said.

"The report also points out that Variable Renewable Energy sources cannot deliver system strength, inertia and voltage control essential for a stable grid.

"This means VRE integration would only be possible when accompanied by fast-reacting, mid-merit, fossil-based technologies such as HELE which provide readily available back up capacity.”