It is with great concern that I have just received information from Lynda that the NSW government is considering increasing it’s investment in coal and coal seam gas. Please check out this website: https://coalandgasstrategy.discussions.nsw.gov.au/
I have just made a submission to the committee assessing the future of these misguided industries which I’ve attached to this email. Please read it and, if you think it’s worthy, use it as a basis for submissions by CASES members. Submissions close on Friday, March 15 so we need to act fast to stop this madness!
Submission to the NSW Coal and Gas Strategy Committee, April 13, 2011.
By Gregory John Olsen Esq
2 Oorana Ave Philip Bay 2036
02 9311 3857
I would like to register the strongest possible opposition to any further development of coal or coal seam gas in NSW. It is imperative that we begin transitioning from finite and polluting fossil fuels to clean energy generated from renewable sources such as wind turbines and concentrated solar thermal (CST) power stations.
I offer to this esteemed committee the work completed by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) in their Zero Carbon Australia 2020 report (ZCA) in which they show how, using current commercially available renewable technologies, Australia, and NSW by definition, can have energy security, create thousands more jobs than is currently available in the fossil fuel industry and remove ourselves from dependency on overseas suppliers of fossil fuels when ours begin to run out as we reach peak coal in the next 15 to 20 years.
Firstly, please download a copy of the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan – NSW Elements: http://media.beyondzeroemissions.org/ZCA2020_Stationary_Energy_Plan_NSW.pdf. In order to replace fossil fuels with renewables, “it’s foundation is co-implementation of windfarms and concentrated solar thermal power stations with molten salt thermal storage (CST+). Both technologies are commercially proven and economically affordable. CST+ has the advantage of providing reliable baseload electricity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Quoting from the Plan, “The insolation and plug-in costs for the four NSW CST+ sites at Bourke, Broken Hill Dubbo and Moree are estimated @ $52 billion, and an additional $8.43 billion for the grid upgrade. Once again, it should be borne in mind that these costs include replacement of fossil fuels for most transport, heating and industrial needs in NSW. The price tag for NSW of a little over $60 billion over ten years is less than the amount that Australia will be paying annually for imported oil within five years.
“Wind energy is relatively cheap when compared with conventional fossil fuel sources, but it’s availability is highly variable. If too much wind energy is added to conventional grids it increases the need for expensive dispatchable gas-powered turbines. CST+ is as dispatchable as gas. Under the Plan, during those periods when the windfarms are able to achieve maximum electricity production they can meet the entire demand, allowing the CST+ units to build up their thermal reserves. The CST+ units can continuously deliver electricity for up to 17 hours without sunlight.
“BZE has researched and proposed five sites for locating windfarms in NSW. They are Cooma, Crookwell, Orange, Silverton and Walcha. At present, more than 4000MW of wind capacity has been approved or is pending approval for installation in NSW. In addition they propose that twelve CST+ sites would be built across Australia, four of which would be located in NSW. Each would have a peak output of 3.5GW and a construction cost of $13 billion, making the total capacity in NSW 14GW. This takes into account an expected decline in costs per MW as experience in manufacturing and construction is gained, and the units become larger, starting at 75MW and building to 217MW. The earliest installed units are expected to cost $10.50/W (of capacity), falling to $3.40 (2010 AUDs) in the second half of the transition decade after 9,000 MW of capacity have been installed.”
Please bear in mind that the REAL costs of fossil fuels are underreported and, therefore, usually ignored. The 103 page, March 2009 report entitled, “THE HIDDEN COSTS OF ELECTRICITY: Externalities of Power Generation in Australia by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE): http://www.apo.org.au/sites/default/files/ATSE_Report_Hidden_Costs_Electricity_2009.pdf states that “Combining greenhouse and health damage costs for Australia gives representative total external costs of $A19/MWh for natural gas, $A42/MWh for black coal and $A52/MWh for brown coal.” These are costs that are being met by NSW taxpayers indirectly, never to come under scrutiny or challenge. Contrast these figures to solar PV and solar thermal @ $A5/MWh and wind @ $A1.5/MWh.
It is clear from this report that the true costs of mining coal and gas are hidden from public view and “external impacts of an energy technology need to be assessed over its complete life cycle. Ignoring this will lead to wrong assessments and to misconceptions about the environmental credentials of a fuel, a technology or a product”. Therefore, any argument about the relative costs of implementing the BZE Plan with carrying on with a ‘business as usual’ approach MUST include these externalities. It becomes clear that both on economic, security and jobs grounds, transition to renewables IS not a luxury, but a sensible and necessary policy and course of action for NSW to support.
In respect of jobs, “the Plan estimates 80,000 jobs nationally in installation during the construction phase, with 45,000 continuing indefinitely in operation and maintenance. To the extent that the wind turbines and heliostat mirrors are to be manufactured here, another 30,000 jobs could potentially be created. It is estimated that a total of 20,000 jobs would be displaced from the mining and combustion of coal and gas were the Plan to be implemented. The fraction of manufacturing jobs that would be retained in NSW depends largely on State and Federal policy settings. The sooner the works begin, the higher the likely percentage of jobs created in NSW.”
Consequently, I implore the committee to reject any future extension of NSW’s coal mines and immediately halt any coal seam gas exploration, replacing it instead, with a bold and future proof policy that will transition NSW electricity production from finite fossil fuels to clean, everlasting renewable energy. On all counts, cost, baseload generation, environmental and health benefits and jobs to regional NSW, there can be no other choice for this committee but to shelve any idea that coal and coal seam gas has a future in NSW. 100% renewables is the only prudent option for the future energy needs of NSW.