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Renewables: Higher energy costs, short operating life & more

The only way to reduce power prices as quickly as possible is to build base load coal fired power stations using home grown resources.

If Anthony Albanese is serious about providing energy cost relief to households then he should stop wasting money on subsidies (which are good for one quarter) and actually use the money to increase the supply of power.

He needs to address the underlying issue which is the underdevelopment of base load power stations over the last three decades in lieu of renewable energy the disrupts the supply of cheap reliable energy.

Until this mad obsession with renewable energy ends, energy prices will never come down.

Senate on 25/03/2024
MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
Energy

Senator RENNICK (Queensland) (15:56): I rise today to support Senator Canavan’s motion, the matter of public importance that Labor’s heavy-handed market interventions, destructive industrial relations changes and secretive EPBC reforms are creating massive uncertainty in energy markets that Australians will pay for through higher prices and the loss of industrial jobs. Labor’s environmental and energy policies are the fourth step of the four-step shuffle throughout their time in government, because this crisis has been decades in the making.

It started in the 1980s under the Hawke-Keating government with the Button plan. Former Labor senator John Button had this great idea that we would rationalise manufacturing, and by doing that he let manufacturing go offshore. Those jobs, of course, were replaced by the university sector that was heavily subsidised by the Australian taxpayer through the process known as HECS. Our young children were given loans like from a loan shark and they were promised that somehow if they went to university they’d come out and get a high-paying job at the end of it. The next step along the line was superannuation. Yes, it started out at 2 per cent in 1992 but it’s gradually risen to 12 per cent.

The final step of course was this renewable energy target and the mandating of net zero, which is actually seeing our base-load energy—and I might add that when I finished school in the late 1980s, Queensland had the lowest energy prices in the world on the back of cheap, reliable coal powered energy as a result of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen building coal-fired power stations and plonking them down on coalmines that were owned by the Queensland people. The Queensland people didn’t have to buy the coal on the market; all they had to do was dig it up and burn it. That coal was exported to the other states as well. That cheap and reliable energy helped power our manufacturing sector and helped power our mining sector as well. For two decades, coal was Australia’s biggest export, and that is what powered this country.

What we are seeing now as a result of these green policies designed ostensibly to protect the environment is that they are actually just destroying the environment. I’ve spoken about that many times before. They’re also going to destroy the economy. Why? Because renewables are much more expensive. They have a shorter operating life. You’re lucky to get 20 years out of solar panels and wind turbines. In fact, many wind turbines are lucky to last a few years. They cost a fortune to build. Then you have to build a lot more transmission lines because, rather than having, say, 20 coal-fired power stations down the east coast, you’ve now got hundreds and hundreds of smaller energy generators. Then you’ve got to have batteries to back up all of this energy because, as we know, the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day. Of course we don’t even talk about the whole recycling process; that’s another environmental disaster waiting to occur.

All of this costs money and all of this drives up the cost of electricity. Not only is there the cost of renewables but also there is the cost of the subsidies for renewables. In order to continue the illusion that Labor loves to push that renewables are cheaper—and they are not cheaper—they are regulated through the renewable energy target that mandates that 33 terawatts of renewable energy has to be sold throughout the year. Thirty-three terawatts is about 23 per cent of our energy network. The sun shines for only six or seven hours a day, on a good day, throughout winter. If you have a few overcast days, on average you’d be lucky to see the sun shining 25 per cent of the time throughout the year. That means that, when the sun does shine, you’ve got to sell all that solar power at that time. Because there’s an oversupply for six hours of the day, that solar is sold at a loss, and then those costs have to be recouped through the coal-fired power stations at night. That is driving up the cost of energy. When you drive up the cost of energy, you drive up the cost of manufacturing. It makes manufacturing more expensive in this country, and it sends manufacturing jobs offshore. So I urge you to support this motion today.

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