The suggestion applies to the happy situation before power policy was poisoned by the RE target.
Picture the situation years ago before RE appeared like a small cloud on the horizon as small as a man’s hand Kings 18:44. Long before Hazelwood was sabotaged by Daniel Andrews and the plant in South Australia was blown up. We had cheap power and the old clunkers firing on black and brown coal were producing just enough power to keep the lights on, supported by hydro and a bit of gas.
Enter modern high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power plants. They increase the extraction of energy from 30% to 45%. That is a 50% increase in efficiency that translates into 33% less coal and the associated CO2 emissions to provide a given quantity of power.
Replacing the old plants at the end of their working lives with the new technology would maintain a reliable supply of the world’s cheapest power and also over the period to 2030 or thereabouts would meet the Paris commitment, if anyone gives a rats arse by then.
Some of us see more CO2 in the air as a bonus. After all it is essential plant food and at present it is seriously sub-optimal at one of the lowest points in geological history.
That strategy with advanced coal fired power might have saved the car industry, the aluminium smelters and all the other jobs that have been lost already. It would have calmed the nerves of Judith’s baker and the McDonalds manager in Whyalla. It would reduce a lot of pressure on household budgets and help the poor people and pensioners who have discovered that spending on keeping warm is discretionary (think of that in some of the world’s richest countries.)
All that without spending a dollar on solar farms and wind turbines, using up agricultural land, killing birds and other wildlife habitats, and precipitating the rancorous and divisive climate wars that have sucked the oxygen out of the other debates that we need about school education, debt, regulation and productivity, population policy and the disastrous loss of scholarship and civility on the campuses.
“Someone had blundered” as Tennyson wrote in The Charge of the Light Brigade.