Turnbull: We Need All Forms Of Electricity Generation Or ‘We’ll End Up Like South Australia’

Turnbull: We Need All Forms Of Electricity Generation Or ‘We’ll End Up Like South Australia’

Australia’s prime minister has a message to you. On energy. Delivered to anyone on the Malcolm eNewsletter — yep, it’s a thing — was a stern-faced justification for Australia’s energy policy and future investment into technologies like clean coal.

The incumbent Liberal federal government, Turnbull says, has a practical approach to energy “driven by jobs… not politics.”

“Australians need affordable and reliable electricity. It powers our businesses, our homes, our lives.

“You rely on it and governments — state and federal — must ensure its safe supply.”

In the one-minute video, Prime Minister Turnbull says that Australia needs to reduce its carbon emissions, but that the country “need[s] a co-ordinated plan between all governments, otherwise we’ll end up like South Australia.” That’s a not-so-subtle reference to the recent South Australian blackout in September of last year and since then. Turnbull says SA’s energy is more expensive and less reliable than other states. (It’s not more expensive.)

South Australia has a high proportion of renewable energy in its mix of generation sources, but those renewables were not responsible for the September blackout. What was responsible was 260km/h winds, and even a higher proportion of traditional power sources like brown coal and quick-start gas power plants would not have been enough to bridge the gap.

The blackout could have been prevented, experts say, with battery energy storage.

The government is “taking action” by “investing in and encouraging new storage and transmission technologies… that will provide more backup in times of peak demand.” “All forms” of generation will make up Australia’s future energy grid, Turnbull says in the video.

Responses from regular Australians to Turnbull’s video on Facebook so far are… mixed.

“Energy is the biggest industry in the world. Australia started the solar race decades ago. What happened? We are so far behind the rest of the world now its a massive missed opportunity,” a popular comment thread starts.

The unspoken message of the video — especially given its timing around recent events — is that clean coal is a technology that the government will invest time and money investigating, and it’s not resonating with viewers. “This clean coal business is bunk expensive technology that will still pollute and not create the emissions reductions the world needs,” said one commenter.

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