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Future energy demand 'can't be met without fossil fuels'

05 November, 2014

PM Tony Abbott has correctly put coal's place in true perspective by recently telling reporters it will remain the "foundation of the world's energy needs", the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has said in a recent statement.

The comments came as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned about the continued use of fossil fuels, calling for them to be phased out by 2100.

Brendan Pierson, Chief Executive of MCA said although renewable energy would contribute to the world's growing energy demands, that demand could not be met without fossil fuels.

"New research by the respected Manhattan Institute concludes that between 1990 and 2010, 832 million people gained access to electricity due to coal. By comparison, 65 million people gained access to electricity via non-hydro renewable," Pierson said.

"In overall terms, fossil fuels provided 19 times more new electricity access than did renewables over the last two decades.

"As the Manhattan Institute demonstrates, renewables cannot match the low cost and massive scale of coal-fired electricity production.

"There is no escape from extreme poverty without access to cheap energy and coal is the leading option.

"In the world's fastest growing energy market – Asia – the cost of generating electricity from coal is half the cost of gas, and even more affordable than other alternatives.

"Contrary to the hysterical claims of the Greens, a strong future for coal and lower CO2 emissions are not mutually exclusive.

"Importantly, both major political parties have signalled they will rise above the alarmism and ideological prejudice of extreme anti-coal activists."

The Abbott government is currently negotiating with the ALP to wind back Australia's renewable energy target.

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PeterF | Thursday, November 6, 2014, 6:50 AM
Mr. Pierson was correct about power costs 10 years ago or even five. Now the vast majority of new capacity being installed in China, Japan the USA and Europe is renewable. Even Africa will install as much renewables this year as it did in the last 10. In the US and Germany, although new coal plants approved some time ago are being built there have been no new proposals funded for the last 3 years and whatever is in the pipeline is more than offset by retirements. (eg Germany 8-10 GW new, 14 -16GW retirements over the same period. In this decade the US is retiring enough coal plants to run the entire Australian grid. The cost of supplying energy from coal in Australia may be lower than gas and renewables but in many countries the cost of new coal power stations plus the cost of the high voltage grid necessary to support them is much higher than coal. Recent bids for solar and wind power in India and Brazil are all below the breakeven cost for new coal before considering the environmental costs or the cost of a centralised grid. As for speed and scale Almost every coal fired power station currently being built outside China is running late and over budget. Bangladesh is installing a million solar systems per year. Italy installed about 12 GW of renewables in one year. No developing country outside China has ever installed more than 2-3 GW of coal in a year. What is even worse for coal demand is that electricity consumption is falling all over the developed world and the new coal power stations still being built in China and India will use 30-50% less coal per MW.hr than a typical old Australian power station. Coal will exist for many years but its fall indicated by the unprofitability, closures and redundancies in Australia will be much faster than Mr. Pierson would like to think
Ken Goldsmith | Thursday, November 6, 2014, 3:11 PM
"UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned about the continued use of fossil fuels, calling for them to be phased out by 2100" The IPCC has been rabbiting on about only having 5 years to eliminate fossil fuels for decades, or "we'll awl be rooned", but now they admit we have about 85 years! Yet, probably nearly half the population still has faith in fundamentalist AGW dogma. That said, if humanity is to endure to and past 2100, we need to rein in the excesses of the mining industry and their pet pollies, while we still have arable land, and potable water reserves.
Hayrick | Saturday, November 29, 2014, 4:38 PM
Coal is so yesterday. Future generations may have a food problem aggravated by habitat destruction or warming temperatures or, for the unconvinced, the next ice age is overdue isn't it?.