Green money could go to coal
There are suggestions that Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) money may be used to fund a new generation of coal-fired power stations.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia has an obligation to lead the world in coal technology.
Treasurer Scott Morrison agrees.
“Coal is a big part of the future under a Coalition Government and clearly that's not the case under the alternative,” Mr Morrison told the ABC.
“It's the Clean Energy Finance Corporation — it's not the wind energy finance corporation.”
Energy experts say investing in new coal-fired power stations would lead to a significant increase in power prices.
“Several authorities' projections, including from the CSIRO, put the price of new coal at $80 a megawatt hour, and new wind and solar around the same level — but we are seeing lower prices achieved day by day [for wind and solar],” the Australian Industry Group's principle national advisor Tennant Reed told the ABC.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates the price per megawatt hour for a new coal generator is actually closer to $160.
“The price of $80 a megawatt hour for clean coal power assumes a uniform cost of funding between wind, solar and coal and that's simply not the case,” Bloomberg's Kobad Bhavnagri said.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says he remains “technology neutral”.
Mr Frydenberg said clean-coal technology is becoming common in Asia.
“Australia, as the biggest coal exporter in the world, should be looking at how we can roll out similar technologies,” he said.
The Energy Minister also called for more investment in alternative energy storage, which is one of the major roadblocks to stable, renewable power.
“Renewables have a big role to play but there are challenges that are posed by their integration into the system because when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, the power is not being generated,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said that while there were no official proposals yet, but that he would “have no problems” using government funds to build new stations.
“I reckon we should be building new coal-fire power stations,” he said.
“We own one of the biggest sections of the resource and we are the biggest exporter of coal. It's morally prudent upon us to be at the forefront of the technology.
“At this point in time, it's not on the agenda. But to make it quite clear, I'd have no problems if it was.”