Coal on backburner as PM reveals funding shortlist for energy projects

Only one coal-based energy project has made the Australian Government’s shortlist for the Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program, designed to deliver technology-neutral, low-cost electricity generation to Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a shortlist of the 12 proposed energy projects yesterday, which was whittled down from 66 submissions.

The shortlist includes projects located across several states and territories, including five gas projects, six renewable pumped hydro projects and a single coal upgrade project, Delta Energy’s Vales Point power station in New South Wales. 

No proposals for new coal-fired power plants in Queensland made the shortlist, despite recent lobbying by the Queensland Nationals.

Australian Industrial Energy, which is partially owned by the Andrew Forrest-led Squadron Energy, also made the shortlist with its proposed gas project at Port Kembla, NSW.

The shortlist did not include any projects from the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory or Western Australia, while Tasmania was represented by one project on the list, the Battery of the Nation project by Hydro Tasmania, which had already been confirmed for funding by the government.

GFG Alliance-owned SIMEC Energy Australia was another of the companies to make the round with its Middleback Ranges pumped hydro generation project in the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, which has the capacity to generate 220 megawatts of power.

The project is to be built on SIMEC Mining’s Middleback Ranges iron ore site and will use mining overburden to create the dam walls.

“With the pre-feasibility study complete we are looking forward to working with government to demonstrate the full life-cycle value of the mine [and] working with SIMEC Energy Australia to deliver low energy costs to industry,” said SIMEC Mining executive managing director Matt Reed.

SIMEC Energy Australia chief executive officer Marc Barrington added that the funding would help the company accelerate investment in new generation capacity, allowing it to supply “cheaper electricity than currently available” for the region.

The government aims for the UNGI program to reduce electricity wholesale prices by 25-30 per cent in each National Electricity Market (NEM) region by 2021.

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