A new coal plant for Victoria?

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record.

Despite this, and despite releasing a white paper with a 20% emissions reduction target (YCAN will be analysing the white paper in more detail after the Federal Election) John Brumby’s Government is still supporting a new coal-fired power station to be built in the Latrobe Valley.

Despite the spin (the company that wants to build the plant, HRL, says that it is clean technology, although it would have the same emissions as a black coal power station) this new power station would increase Victoria’s emissions by 3%, thereby cancelling out the State Government’s policy of closing 25% of Hazelwood Power Station.

Effectively, instead of replacing one quarter of Hazelwood with renewable energy, Brumby’s policy is to replace brown coal with……more coal.

The 600MW HRL plant will receive $150 million of taxpayer money to subsidise its construction if it is to go ahead. It would have 36% less emissions than a conventional brown coal power station, but that is still infinitely more than the zero emissions from baseload solar thermal and wind power – both of which are commercially available now. We would prefer if our money went towards those technologies.

A solar thermal power tower. These are being constructed in the USA and Spain. With heat storage they can replace baseload electricity from coal.

HRL is now working on a plan to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. If it can slide under the extremely lax emissions standard of 0.8 tonnes of carbon per megawatt hour of energy produced (average globally for rich nations is 0.45, wind and solar are zero), then it is presumed it will get a tick of approval, unless we can stop it politically.

The message just doesn’t seem to be getting through to the Labor Party. We have to urgently transition out of coal. Building new coal-fired power plants is insanity. We can go to 100% renewable energy if we wanted to.

If John Brumby and his inner-city ministers that are under threat from the Greens want to be taken seriously on climate change, then this new coal plant must be stopped before the State Election in November.