Asia Minute: More Coal Fired Electricity for Australia?

Mar 7, 2019

Credit CSIRO / www.scienceimage.csiro.au/image/10945

One of the largest suppliers of electricity for the island of O‘ahu is a coal-fired power plant. While Hawai‘i is committed to reduce its use of fossil fuels in coming years, it’s a different story for another location in the Asia Pacific.

Australia is in the middle of an argument about coal.

There’s a proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant in the state of New South Wales — home to the country’s biggest city of Sydney. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government is considering using taxpayer money to help pay for the project — which is being designed by a Chinese state-owned company.

The China Energy Engineering Corporation is designing a 2,000 megawatt coal plant. To put that in some context, that’s more than ten times the capacity of the AES coal-fired power plant on O‘ahu.

The Chinese company has extensive experience in massive power projects including the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, as well as coal fired power plants in Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

But the project in Australia is by no means a done deal. Even if there is no taxpayer support on the federal level, the state government needs to review and approve any construction plans, and Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board may also get involved.

The latest developments come as Australia just sweated through its hottest summer on record.

That point was underlined by a spokesman for the country’s Green Party, who called it “madness.” Adding that if the government approved the plans, “you will see civil disobedience in Australia on a scale never seen before.”