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Abandoning coal by 2035 is ‘dangerous’ says industry

Glencore coal mine
Coal mine

Phasing out at least one fossil fuel across the Sunshine State risks unnecessarily harm, an advocate warned.

The Queensland Government’s recent energy and jobs plan to stop regularly relying on coal and achieve 80 per cent renewable energy by the year 2035 has been widely criticised.

“The energy plan is just a debacle … it is fraught with danger,” Mining and Energy Union (MEU) Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said according to News Limited.

“We have still not got anything that can replace coal-fired power stations now. It is dangerous for our members who work [at the stations], the close calls they have had. When you have got the principal union of the energy generation sector, ourselves, [with] no consultation on a decision that will have a massive impact on our members, it is not good enough.”

MEU has no idea why Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk suddenly chose to end coal dependance and transition towards solar, wind and hydroelectric alternatives.

“It is really caught us by surprise [with] this plan, they have treated the communities in regional Queensland with contempt [and] they have condescended to us,” Smyth said according to the media outlet.

Palaszczuk claims coal will no longer be necessary after the world’s largest 5 gigawatt pumped hydro scheme is built in Pioneer Valley, 70km west of Mackay. The proposed development is understood to dwarf the Snowy 2.0 Hydro Project, which has a capital expenditure exceeding $10 billion. It also aims to ease activist concerns about an environmental theory that burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide emissions, which can influence long-term weather patterns.

“[The project] will supply half of Queensland’s entire energy needs with clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy,” she said in a public statement.

“This plan makes Queensland the renewable energy capital of the world. It also takes real and decisive action on climate change.”

Coal will only serve as a back-up option when “something goes wrong”. Up to 39,000 affected workers have the following career options:

  • working on the new super grid
  • deploying flow battery technologies
  • moving new gas to hydrogen power stations
  • joining new maintenance hubs for renewables
  • supporting CleanCo and other renewable expansions.

Biloela, Kingaroy, Rockhampton, Gladstone, the Darling Downs and other impacted mining communities will share in a $200 million downpayment from the state’s Regional Economic Futures Fund.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) previously warned renewable energy is not advanced enough to supply non-stop power. Major electricity reliability risks will occur if coal is abandoned.

“As we are seeing in Europe if you do not get it right you get blackouts, and you get astronomical increases in energy costs,” QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane earlier said.

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