Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane has called on the federal government to invest in a high-technology coal-fired power station for North Queensland.
Speaking in Townsville at a business breakfast, Mr Macfarlane said a chunk of the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund could be used for a modern high efficiency, low emission (HELE) power plant.
“It needs to be a less ideological argument about where we get our energy from and a more practical discussion about how we provide both reliable and cheaper electricity and reduce green house gas emissions,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“If we’re going to use technologies and government grants for renewables then we should also use it for coal, which provides stable base-load power.
“And we have some of the highest quality, low emission coal in the world right here in Queensland.
“The plant would need federal funding to provide a long-term base load for both business and households in the north.”
Mr Macfarlane said the reality was that coal-fired electricity and renewables will be part of the energy mix for decades to come.
“Let’s have technology that generates that electricity with low emissions and at the same time supports the further use of renewables,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“Like anything in life there has to be a balance, and a mix of energy. Solar panels are great but they don’t work in the middle of the night and battery technology is not there yet.
“If this region is to develop to its full potential and be part of the powerhouse of northern Australia we need to see its own stable power generation here in Townsville which does include wind and solar farms, but it also requires coal-fired power supply.
“I urge the businesses in Townsville to put forward a business case to Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund committee for the initial capital for the project and to develop this technology in Australia.
“Growing the economy and attracting industry and jobs is a great way to make sure North Queensland grows.”