Avert a Catastrophic Energy Crisis -Keep Hazelwood Open
On 2 November 2016 the CEC issued a call for government intervention to keep Hazelwood Power Station open. We reissue that call today. Currently the 1,600 megawatt (MW) power station is scheduled to close on 31 March, threatening energy security and raising the prospect of blackouts, further increases to power bills, and industrial collapse. If Prime Minister Turnbull and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews fail to keep Hazelwood open they will have the blood of the victims of a chaotic and unreliable electricity system on their hands, and Australians will punish them severely.
The Federal Government’s $2 billion intervention to expand the Snowy Mountains Scheme to add 2,000 MW of capacity will be of little comfort if we have to endure rolling blackouts for up to seven years before this pumped-storage scheme comes online. And South Australia’s expensive battery plan to provide a mere 100 MW output (providing there’s any charge left in the lithium ion cells) won’t match the 650 MW that the Heywood Interconnector provides largely from Victoria’s coal-fired power stations. But with Hazelwood closed this 650 MW transfer to South Australia will not always be possible, as Victoria will become a net energy importer.
The solution to Australia’s energy security is to reject the proven failure of privatised electricity markets and also reject pseudoscientific environmentalist ideology, both of which have contributed to the current crisis. To do this the federal and state governments must take the following steps:
- Nationalise the National Electricity Market (NEM);
- Nationalise all power stations, poles and wires and electricity retailers;
- Rescind the Renewable Energy Target and all subsidies for intermittent solar and wind power;
- Nationalise our gas resources to ensure affordable fuel for existing generators;
- Build the Clarence River Scheme, which is on the scale of another Snowy Mountains Scheme; and
- Establish a federal Nuclear Energy Commission to plan for near-term Australian nuclear power generation.
Above all, Australia needs a government-owned national bank to provide credit for expanded power infrastructure. This bank could fund new generation capacity to provide cheap power for industrial expansion to create meaningful jobs for the next generation. The most energy dense, and therefore cheapest power options of nuclear, coal-fired and hydro power must come online as soon as possible. Should coal-fired power stations fulfil this requirement, the Turnbull government’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals must be rejected as pseudoscientific insanity. By mass, carbon dioxide is 72.7 per cent oxygen, so CCS would be better described as an extremely expensive oxygen burial program.
Nuclear power will be the future, and given its enormous energy density it will provide the cheapest power for generations to come. A nuclear renaissance is now under way: currently 59 reactors are under construction worldwide and a further 164 reactors are on order or planned. Additionally 350 reactors have been proposed with specific program or site proposals. Nuclear power is the cleanest and safest form of power, as numerous authoritative studies confirm. Just a few new nuclear reactors in Australia would truly be a game changer. But until they come online, Hazelwood and other coal-fired power stations must remain open.