Australia

Government urged to reject Chinese-backed Hunter Valley coal-fired power stations

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A Chinese energy company has partnered with a little-known Australian company on a proposal for two coal-fired power plants in the Hunter Valley.

The Greens have warned a proposal to build two new coal-fired power plants in New South Wales will face a "mountain of opposition". 

A Chinese state-owned company China Energy Engineering Corporation has signed a deal with a little-known Australian company Cavcorp to develop two 1000 megawatt power plants in the disused Hunter Economic Zone. 

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said he was aware of the proposal, which would require state and federal government approval, but did not comment further. 

The controversial proposal comes after the Coalition government announced a series of policies to cut emissions as it defends its record on climate change action.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said after enduring the hottest summer on record, Australians would fight to stop it.  

“We will raise up a massive movement to ensure that these power-stations never happen," Mr Bandt said in a statement. 

Protesters are seen marching through Sydney in protest of Adani's Queensland coal mine project in Sydney, Saturday, December 8, 2018. (AAP Image/Chris Pavlich) NO ARCHIVING
Thousands of students rallied in Sydney in December calling for more action on climate change.
AAP

"We’ll work with the community to build a mountain of opposition to prevent these plants from ever seeing the light of day."

“Building new coal-fired power stations is signing a death-warrant for the planet."

Greenpeace says the project "makes no sense" and has called on Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian to to rule out any new coal generation.

"If the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian want to show us that they are no longer besotted by coal, they will rule out building these coal plants right off the bat," campaigner Jonathan Moylan said in a statement on Thursday.

Coalition divided on energy

But Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly endorsed the proposal, telling the ABC it was "fantastic" and urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide taxpayer subsidies to ensure it goes ahead. 

The proposal is likely to expose divisions over energy in the Coalition with a rebel group of National MPs pressuring the Prime Minister underwrite a new coal power plant. 

The Australian reports six Nationals MP have written a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormak to fast track taxpayer subsidies for coal to address "unsustainable Queensland electricity costs". 

The government is currently assessing 66 applications for taxpayer funds to support new power generation projects. 

Ten of the potential energy projects rely on coal. 

Labor has ruled out providing taxpayer funds for new coal fired power plants. 

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