Coal-fired nothings…

I didn’t post anything in January because I was in India for most of the month.  It was an amazing trip, but I came home to the same news from before I went away…Australia still hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that coal is on the way out.

I saw these while I was in India:

Wind farm near Ahmednagar, Maharashtra State, India

India is ranked 5th in the world in terms of wind power installed capacity, with almost 11,000 MW capacity, and they’re planning more.  The US and a lot of Europe are already on the fast-track to zero-emissions power generation.  Even China reached their 2020 target of 30,000 MW of wind power this year, and have now increased the target to 150,000 MW.  All this is compared to Australia’s current operating capacity of about 1,300 MW.

China also benefited from the Australian government’s failure to support our own solar industry, with a largely Australian innovation now providing around 50 million Chinese homes with unlimited free hot water.

Back home in 19th century Queensland, the government has just approved new mining leases in the Surat Basin in the west of the state.  The coal from these new mines will, ironically, be sent to China.  The state government’s excitement over the predicted income and employment stats is tragic.

For the sake of 30 million tonnes of coal, which won’t last long in a country that uses around 2.773 billion tonnes of coal per year but will add another 86 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere, our government is prepared to spoil prime agricultural land and create a myriad of environmental problems that will probably cost more (through direct, indirect and long-term effects) than the mining profits to clean up.

There is so much potential in renewable energy and most of the world knows it.  If some of the world’s biggest polluters can turn over a new leaf, why is it taking so long for a prosperous, developed nation like Australia to embrace the future?

© Manu Saunders 2010

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