This is an idea whose time appears to have come. Queensland has a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvigorate its industrial base and exploit its abundance of cheap energy. South Australia is in the process of decimating its industrial base because it has preferred expensive forms of unreliable energy, so-called “renewables”, over reliable baseload power from gas, coal or nuclear. Victoria is following suit. As summer’s load shedding in New South Wales demonstrates, that state also lacks a buffer against extreme demand.
The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) demand projections clearly show very large shortfalls in SA and Victoria in the summers (November to March) of 2017-18 and 2018-19. These shortfalls could be of the order of 2000MW and will occur at a time when NSW demand will be close to capacity – see AEMO graphs at https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard#medium-term-outlook.
The table below sets out projected supply, demand and surplus/shortfall by State in summer months
Queensland’s new generator could act to supply power internally, particularly as industrial development scales up closer to the generator, as well as contributing to the ability of Queensland to export power to southern states as required and to attract southern state energy intensive industries who want cheap reliable power.
More generation capacity is required to drive power costs down. The USA is a similar country to Australia in terms of the components of power generation. Yet the price of power in the USA is around half that in Australia.
Development of a baseload generator could also be coupled with development of a new port and industrial area in North Queensland at either Bowen or Townsville.
While these projects should be driven by private enterprise there is a role for government in ensuring that access to water, infrastructure and fuel is as readily available as possible.
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