July 18, 2012
We are used to the vested interests of the fossil fuel electricity generators acting to protect their stranded assets----the coal fired power stations --and the coal export boom with its big coal infrastructure development in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland.
But we hear very little about who is buying Australia's coal exports in the media. One such customer is India which has a shortage of coal to produce the energy needed to develop its economy. India is facing an energy crisis and it has natural constraints in increasing the supply of fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal) to keep up with the increasing demand for more energy and electricity from economic development, a growing population and massive urbanization.
India needs all the energy it can harness to sustain its high economic growth rate and it will increasingly have to import oil, gas and coal. Coal, it is argued, will continue to be the main driver of India’s economy.
Hence Gina Rinehart's development of her massive coal project in the Galilee Basin; a development premised on India relying on energy produced from coal fired power stations. It looks a winner---an eternal boom according to the Big Miners. Coal is the future.
What if fossil fuels are not the only possible solution? What if the imported coal becomes too expensive for India compared to renewables? What if renewables offer more in the way of energy security than imported Australian coal?
Expensive energy is going to impact heavily on the poor. Hence the idea of bottoms up technology---ie.,decentralised, stand-alone systems --- at a village level as opposed to the coal and gas fuel mix in a centralized grid system.