Australia’s Turnbull government is planning to help fund the construction of new clean-coal-fired power stations in an extraordinary measure to intervene in the looming energy security and pricing crisis.
In a move to address the premature closures of state power plants, the federal government will look to either repurpose plants or directly invest in the construction of new-generation coal-fired plants in partnership with the private sector. A senior government source confirmed Malcolm Turnbull had asked late last year for options to fund “ultra-super-critical power plants” to provide clean-coal alternatives and lower fuel costs, which would not only alleviate price pressure for consumers and business but arrest the decline in Australia’s competitive advantage in manufacturing.
In a direct challenge to the Labor states, and drawing the political battlelines with Bill Shorten, the Prime Minister yesterday blamed “huge” renewable energy targets set by Labor governments for pushing power prices to the highest of any OECD country.
In his first national address of the year, Mr Turnbull accused Labor yesterday of a “mindless rush” to renewables, and hinted that the government would intervene to protect prices and security of supply with a path to state-of-the-art coal-fired technology.
The Australian has confirmed that Mr Turnbull and senior ministers, including Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, have been in discussions since December on what exceptional measures the commonwealth could take to subsidise new coal-fired generation, as well as provide incentives to the states to lift the moratorium on new gas development, which is also having a crippling impact on reliability and prices.