Coal now in short supply!

Former PM Tony Abbott said it would be “unconscionable” to adopt a clean energy target and he would cross the floor rather than vote for it, adding that his government had been elected “to abolish the carbon tax and end Labor’s climate change obsessions to go further down the renewables path.” He said there was “no chance” the party room would support a “significant increase in the amount of renewables in our system” and called for Hazelwood 2.0.

On the same day, the AFR’s front-page headline was New threat to power supply, the problem being that coal-fired power stations in NSW are struggling to find enough coal.

The problem is, again, the closure of Hazelwood.

This screen shot of NEM generation illustrates the problem:

I think SA’s consumption is normally around 3,000 MW, making the supply you see there perhaps 1,200 MW short. With Hazelwwod closed, Victoria is scrambling to produce enough for itself, let alone topping up SA’s unmet need. Hence most times NSW has to make up the shortfall in Victoria, and then often draws power from Queensland, which frequently produces more power than NSW since Hazelwood closed.

Queensland does not appear to be having supply problems with coal and gas, but is likely to be paying a premium for additional supplies.

The crunch point is that NSW generators have to burn more coal than their long-term coal supply contracts cater for. So supply is tight for a number of their power stations. Miners are flat strap supplying their export contracts, there are some problems with rail capacity, and Glencore is having a barney with the CFMEU.

It seems most will have stockpiles which will see them through the coming summer, but the generators are having to pay more and the future is uncertain.

Not mentioned in this story is the issue at Mt Piper power station, near Lithgow, which may have to close due to a Court of Appeal decision to disallow the extension of the Springvale mine owned by Centennial Coal, on which it depends.

Mt Piper, according to the Oz, has a 1,400 MW capacity, enough to supply 1.2 million homes, and about 15% of NSW’s capacity.

Apparently it is the newest and best coal-fired station in NSW, used to be fed by six mines, but now that is down to one which is running out of coal unless it extends.

The Land and Environment Court will now decide when the mining must stop. EnergyAustralia, owners of Mt Piper, have been stockpiling coal, but can’t write two-year supply contracts under present circumstances. There is talk of the NSW government intervening with emergency powers. At present the NSW Energy Minister is said to be “monitoring the … case closely”.

It is understood Centennial Coal will push for time to seek a new planning consent to keep the mine going.

So far the case appears to have escaped the notice of his federal colleagues, perhaps too busy with other matters, although Mr Turnbull has been invited to come and see, so that he should understand.

The case against mining was brought by green group 4Nature through the partially taxpayer-funded Environmental Defenders’ Office, the concern being the impact on Sydney’s drinking water. Presumably there was an environment impact statement prepared by an ‘independent’ group, but it would have been commissioned by Centennial Coal. “He who pays the piper…”

Meanwhile we had Abbott on the 7.30 Report saying you can’t make steel without coal, followed by Ross Garnaut saying, Yes, we can, just watch us.

No transcript there, but Giles Parkinson at RenewEnergy has it covered:

    The new owners of the Whyalla Steelworks in South Australia have made good on their commitment to green energy, announcing the purchase of a majority stake in the Ross-Garnaut chaired Zen Energy, an Adelaide company specialising in solar and battery storage.

Behind the purchase is UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance:

    “You can’t run a steel mill on renewables,” Abbott has said. Yes you can, says Gupta, and he intends to show how, using the combination of wind, solar, pumped hydro, battery storage and co-generation for most of its needs.

Gupta has bought a large slice of the Australian steel industry, and now through a new venture called SIMEC Zen plans to make an impact in the electricity market. Gupta says the market is broken and has to be fixed.

    Gupta said on Wednesday the high cost of energy is “debilitating for the economy and a crying shame for a country so rich in resources”, and a step change was needed in the power industry to reduce the cost of dispatchable power.

    “Our main focus, as in the UK, will be renewable energy,” he said, adding that the company believed renewable energy would be the basis for a low-carbon industrial future.

There’s more at ABC Online:

They say, ‘It’s going to bring down the cost of energy dramatically’.

There is a story about Gupta, the “Man of Steel”. Briefly, when the Brits colonised India, many don’t realise that India already had a flourishing steel industry. Indian swords were superior to English swords, by a fair margin.

The Brits wrecked the Indian industry in favour of their own, but in modern times, when British Steel was about to go bust, it was taken over and saved by Gupta. Any way here’s the Whyalla works, which unlike Liddell, is not as bad as it looks:

Rod Sims said or energy situation is in a very bad place. If you were looking to the future, he said, you wouldn’t want to start from here.

After what Abbott said, should we be comforted by Turnbull saying that there are no divisions within the Coal-ition? They are united in seeking reliable and dependable energy, he says. Too bad about the climate. He reckons Queensland’s 50% renewables target is pure left-wing ideology.

4 thoughts on “Coal now in short supply!”

  1. Lack of brown coal didn’t cause the Hazelwood closure. Plenty of the stuff there in the Latrobe Valley and nearby. It’s full of water so has a low thermal value. Has to be dried out before being burnt.

    The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks.

    Nor did the newer rocks suffer from intermittency.

    Most of the rocks were despatchable.

    Looks like there’s no shortage of poor analogies too!

  2. Tony Abbott pledges.

    No sniping: frontal assaults only.
    No undermining: just mining.

    When you’re in a hole,
    keep digging (coal) !

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