'Act now': Bid for 'ultra super-critical' plant in Gladstone

GLADSTONE is the perfect place to build a "world-class ultra supercritical" coal-fired power plant.

That's the message from Flynn's federal member Ken O'Dowd who says we need to "act now" to avoid falling further behind in coal power generation, and seeing the nation's electricity reliability crumble.

He said Gladstone's proximity to the coast, rail facilities and existing overhead power lines and equipment made it the perfect place for a new plant.

Calling on the government to "take the politics" out of the energy debate, he said we needed to start thinking seriously about how to utilise our most reliable energy source, coal.

Mr O'Dowd said the Gladstone Power Station's salt water cooling device was one of the key advantages to building a new-age plant in our region.

While almost 85% of the state is drought-declared, putting pressure on freshwater availability, Gladstone's power plant has the benefit of utilising salt water instead.

LISTEN: Ken O'Dowd's bid for an 'ultra super-critical' coal fired power plant in Gladstone


"When there's no rain, the Tarong Power Station starts to take water out of the Boondooma Dam," Mr O'Dowd said.

"This means farmers have been cut off from watering their blueberries and other crops.

"There's a lot to be said to have salt water cooling devices, and Gladstone as a whole."

He said a new plant, which could take up to seven years to build, could operate on the vacant land beside the existing Gladstone Power Station.

But the Flynn MP could be hard-pressed for State Government support for his push for a coal-fired power plant.

In a formal response to Australian chief scientist Alan Finkel's review of the national electricity market this week, the Queensland Government has slammed proposals for new coal plants, instead offering the state's gas reserves as a better solution to the energy crisis.

The nine-page response obtained by the Courier Mail warned new-generation coal power stations delivered only marginal reductions in emissions at significant capital and operating costs, a result that would drive up power prices.

"Simply put, investing in coal-fired technology when other cheaper and lower carbon-generation sources are, or will, become available is not rational," the submission states.

open cut coal mine. a mechanical shovel loads coal into a truck at the peak downs open cut coal mine. owned by bhp billiton mitsubishi alliance, near moranbah, queensland. 
- generic. coal, open cut, mines, mining, coal truck, big truck, drag line, fuel, fossil fuel, exports, environment. 

Monday 21 mar 05 afr    SPECIALX 34916
Photo by Robert Rough
open cut coal mine. a mechanical shovel loads coal into a truck at the peak downs open cut coal mine. owned by bhp billiton mitsubishi alliance, near moranbah, queensland. - generic. coal, open cut, mines, mining, coal truck, big truck, drag line, fuel, fossil fuel, exports, environment. Monday 21 mar 05 afr SPECIALX 34916 Photo by Robert Rough Robert Rough

But Mr O'Dowd said with the energy crisis being the "greatest battle" for businesses in his electorate, we needed to find a solution now.

He said to reach the renewable energy target, whether it be the LNP's 30% or Labor's 50% by 2030, the government needed to plan how the rest of the electricity would be delivered and Mr O'Dowd was recommending coal.

"This is a question we must ask ourselves: where does the extra power come from if our current power stations are going to be rendered useless in another 10 to 12 years," he asked in Parliament.

"The answer is we need ultra-supercritical coal-fired power stations - new ones."

"We need to have a sensible discussion, take the politics out of it, and figure out exactly what we're going to do in Australia now and the future to secure reliable electricity.

"China, India, Bangladesh, they're already working on (new coal-fired power stations), meanwhile we're sitting on our hands waiting for a disaster to happen."

"This will close industry down in Queensland like it has in South Australia if we don't do something about it."

But if coal is supported in the form of these new coal fired power stations, which have 40% fewer emissions than older designs, Gladstone could be too late.

Already Federal Minister for Northern Australia Matthew Canavan, Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and State MP for Burdekin Dale Last have supported the development of a new coal-fired power station in north Queensland.

It's believed two energy generation companies are in talks with the Australian Government about a power plant in north Queensland.



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