Craig Kelly On Anti-Renewables, Pro-Coal Warpath (Again)

Craig Kelly - pro-coal, anti-renewables

Craig Kelly image : Liberal Party Of Australia

Fools, liars, “eco-zealots” and “useful idiots” – some of the terms Liberal backbencher (and it seems energy expert) Craig Kelly has used in the past few days to describe renewable energy supporters.

Any visit to Craig Kelly’s Facebook page is always an interesting one and he was quite busy over the long weekend imparting his brand of wisdom.

“Useful Idiots”

Mr. Kelly kicked off on Saturday with comments relating to Tomago chief executive Matt Howell reportedly claiming Australia was at a crisis point with its energy system.

“This is exactly what I’ve been warning about – green carpet-baggers and their brainwashed ‘useful idiot’ supporters have sold the myth that we can run our economy on; imported Chinese solar panels, wind turbines and big batteries.”

The comment was a variation on a theme Mr. Kelly worked with in March, when he said replacing Liddell Power Station with solar panels, wind turbines and batteries is “as dangerous to the economy as rabies is in a dog“, without mentioning all the other stuff Liddell would be replaced with as well – such as a gas peaker plant, demand management and perhaps even pumped hydro storage.

This time around, the added “imported Chinese” reference gave it a dash of Trumpesque oomph.

There’s much more involved in the transition to 100% renewables than just installing a bunch of modules (regardless of where they are imported from), turbines and batteries higgledy-piggledy and hoping for the best. Many of the so-called “useful idiot” supporters of renewables, who also happen to be voters, would be well aware of that and insulting them in such a way probably isn’t a good move.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Mr. Kelly then claimed that for the subsidies wind and solar power have received in Australia, 10 new HELE coal fired power stations could have been built and still with cash left over to build 10 new Royal Adelaide Hospitals. There was no mention of the support coal has received over the years, or the costs associated with it in terms of health and environmental impacts1.

“Fools And Liars”

Late on Sunday night, Mr. Kelly was at it again, stating “eco-zealots in Australia mindlessly chant the dangerous delusion that; ‘Renewable are cheaper'” and referred to “fools and liars peddling the fantasy” coal can be replaced with solar power and wind energy. He again called for the building of HELE plants and an end to renewable energy subsidies.

HELE stands for High Efficiency Low Emissions. Unfortunately, HELE coal fired power plants aren’t all that more efficient or lower in carbon emissions (nor do they address the issue of various toxins released from burning coal) – but they are very expensive.

Coal Power Failures In New South Wales

It seems Craig Kelly’s latest dummy-spits were (re-)triggered by electricity supply issues in New South Wales last week. While renewables weren’t to blame, they were still labeled the culprit by Tomago’s CEO for “hollowing out” baseload generation in Australia – and Mr. Kelly seized on this.

A series of planned and unplanned generation outages resulted in Lack of Reserve (LOR) conditions in the state. The issues were primarily due to coal generators failing. Simon Holmes à Court tweeted on Sunday evening:

“Six out of 16 coal units in NSW were out of service on Friday — resulting in massive price spikes and causing the state to import a record amount of power.”

Also on Sunday, the Australian Energy Market Operator published a statement regarding the situation in NSW last week.

“In total, around 3800MW of generation resources expected to be available across the peak was not available in NSW. While a number of generating units in NSW were out of service due to planned maintenance, this had no impact on reserve conditions. A further two unplanned forced outages however did result in 1320MW dropping out of the market and resulted in tighter reserve levels.”

The AEMO stated unfavourable conditions also limited rooftop solar, reducing the output of rooftop PV by between 115MW to 254MW on any given day – but this doesn’t represent the majority of New South Wales’ rooftop solar capacity and the state obviously benefited from what was available.

The situation does highlight the need to properly address Australia’s energy situation sooner rather than later. The resistance from some corners to renewables + storage, facing the realities of climate change and living in a carbon-constrained world has only dragged out the process of shifting to a sustainable, affordable and secure renewable- energy based future. If it should continue, it could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of a real energy crisis occurring, while further contributing to an environmental one.


  1. A 2009 study from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering put greenhouse and health damage costs combined at $A19/MWh for natural gas, $A42/MWh for black coal and $A52/MWh for brown coal.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Patrick Comerford says

    So this is the bloke who apparently may not get preselected by his liberal party branch for the next election which can’t come soon enough. If he does manage to get a helping call from Turnbull it will make his subsequent loss at the next election so much sweeter. Voters need to ask themselves is this the kind of zealot they want representing their interests (and not the coal companies) after the election.

  2. Ronald Brakels says

    I look forward to Craig Kelly’s plan on how to free Australia from the scourge of imported gas and steam turbines.

    Also, if we should be importing less from China, I’d be interested to know what Australian exports to China Kelly thinks should be cut? After all, less imports means less exports. Do you think he’d be up for a ban on coal exports? When you think about it, if it is bad for Australia to be dependent on Chinese solar panels that use no fuel and last for decades, imagine how terrible it must be for China to use Australian coal.

  3. Chris Thaler says

    How about this USELESS idiot gets on his bike and disappears like the dodo bird he emulates. Maybe said bike could be fitted with an uninsulated generator and connected to the mains grid.

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