​Australia Institute accused of ‘jumping the shark’ on coal

The NSW Minerals Council has accused The Australia Institute (TAI) of ‘jumping the shark, whilst skiing on a shark, wearing a sharkskin suit’ over its latest paper on coal miners and energy poverty.

In its paper entitled “All talk, no action: the coal industry and energy poverty”, TAI states despite many coal miners pushing the issue of energy poverty globally “coal companies are not, in general, major contributors to energy poverty alleviation efforts”.

“When they do contribute, it is ironically with support for energy sources other than coal. Claims that coal use is vital for economic growth and quality of life are not supported by economic data and should be dismissed as coal industry public relations rather than a genuine contribution to alleviating energy poverty.”

Speaking to The Australia Institute’s Rod Campbell he told Australian Mining “when it comes to dealing with energy poverty in remote areas that are off the grid, coal miners such as Rio Tinto typically use technologies other than coal”.

He pointed to Adani and BHP using solar panels in India and Pakistan, Anglo American using platinum-methanol fuel cells in South Africa, Rio Tinto connecting Peruvian villages to hydro and gas supplies, and Banpu providing off-the-grid diesel power in Indonesia.

“They use technologies other than coal because it makes economic sense to do so; it’s cheaper to use anything but coal.”

His comments, and the report, have been slammed by the NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC).

“Today they are seriously claiming that some of the world's largest energy companies don't actually supply any energy to anyone,” NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said.

“Their parallel universe must also be virtual reality.”

The NSWMC said in this latest ‘attack’ on mining TAI have jumped the shark once more, adding “only this time they have 'jumped the shark' while skiing on the back of a shark and wearing a sharkskin suit”.

It pointed to a recent research paper developed by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Centre for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute, which stated: "Growth in coal consumption has been critical in providing electricity access in developing countries. Based on the results of three different estimates…between 1990 and 2010, about 830 million people—the vast majority in developing countries—gained access to electricity due to coal-fired generation."

The report also outlines ”since 2003, global coal consumption has increased by about 24.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. In absolute terms, that was nine times faster than the growth seen in wind-energy consumption and 40 times that of solar energy”.

The NSWMC went on to say “according to this research by the Manhattan Institute, roughly twice as many people gained access to electricity due to coal as due to natural gas, and for every person who obtained access to electricity over that period from non-hydro renewable sources, such as wind and solar, about 13 gained access due to coal”.

“By their own admission, The Australia Institute are serial peddlers of economic falsehoods on mining, having been forced to admit recently that they included false economic evidence in multiple submissions lodged against mining projects in NSW.”

Campbell dismissed the statements, saying “the cost of other energy sources, including renewables, is now competitive with coal-fired power at a utility scale”.

“More importantly, off-grid and mini-grid initiatives avoid the large up-front costs associated with coal-related infrastructure making them a much better investment for households, communities and governments affected by energy poverty.”

He also responded to the shark jumping/skiing/sharkskin suit wearing comment, saying “shark conservation is a serious concern of The Australia Institute, as is occupational health and safety and endangered species legislation, so difficulties of riding a shark aside, we wouldn’t engage in shark skiing or jumping”.

Pictured below: The act of jumping the shark whilst skiing on a shark, wearing a sharkskin suit.

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