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Coal could be gone in a decade, but Australia's just not ready, says Macfarlane


Australia’s coal fired power could have a life of just 10 years or it could be 20, the thing is no one knows and the industry believes that’s the problem.

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It took just a few hours before Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane’s comment that coal fired power could be phased out in a decade to morph into a firm “would be” phased out on social media.

So he wants to be clear: he doesn’t know.

“I definitely did not say will. I did say you could see a situation where coal phases out in the next decade, but who would really know? It’s impossible to put a date on it,” he said.

That unknown path becomes even more confused by the states all having their own agenda and the Commonwealth having its own, which still holds out for a coal fired power station in Collinsville.

Pure economics meant that Queensland’s relatively young fleet of coal fired power stations would be the last to close, but Macfarlane said it was “really difficult to predict when that will happen”.

“The trend is irreversible. Australia has started down this path. The issue around is that you have to have energy security and affordable electricity and they are the challenges that haven’t been resolved,” he said.

“The whole nub of the issue is that no one knows how fast we are going. We see sudden acceleration, then it goes it quiet and then Russia invades Ukraine and the world starts screaming out for coal to fire their power stations, including in Germany.

“It is going to be a stop-start thing.

“I don’t know if it will take a decade or two decades, but we are on a path. The crucial thing is that there (has to be) more than adequate planning to make sure the lights don’t go out.

“What worries me more than anything is that agendas and timetables get set by states not in co-ordination with what happens in other states.

“Over the top of that is the Commonwealth trying to manage the process.”

Queensland has a goal of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 and “that’s starting to come up really quickly”.

“There doesn’t seem to be a single plan on how we are going to manage this this inevitable transition to lower emissions. Where does gas fit in, where does coal fit in? It has to be mapped out and it isn’t at the moment.

“What it comes back to is having a process is that the transition, which is inevitable, has a process that makes sure the lights stay on and people can afford electricity.”

He said there was a process in each state and one with the Commonwealth and no one knows where and when it comes to a landing because each has their own agenda.



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