Opinion | Strong outlook for region's coal | Stephen Galilee

BRIGHT OUTLOOK: "The Hunter region should continue to benefit from the growing demand for thermal coal for energy generation," the author says.

BRIGHT OUTLOOK: "The Hunter region should continue to benefit from the growing demand for thermal coal for energy generation," the author says.

The composition of our future energy mix is a highly discussed topic among policymakers, on opinion pages, on the airwaves and across the community.

Given that coal is such a big contributor to the Hunter Valley economy, it’s a topic of particular interest to many in the region.

In discussions about future energy policy it’s worth noting that the long-term outlook for the Hunter Valley’s coal industry remains strong.

This is because most of the Hunter’s coal is exported to countries around the world where it is in strong demand for its capacity to contribute to their energy needs.

Here in NSW, the Liddell Power Station is old and expected to close in 2022, while others like the Bayswater Power Station will continue providing reliable baseload energy for many years to come.

AGL has recently announced a $200million upgrade to Bayswater, demonstrating a further need for NSW coal-fired power generation.

Elsewhere in countries like Japan, Taiwan, China and the Philippines, coal will remain an important part of the energy mix for decades to come.

In countries like Japan, Taiwan, China and the Philippines, coal will remain an important part of the energy mix for decades to come

Stephen Galilee

These nations and others across Asia and around the world are locking in their future energy supply with coal fired power plants, including new High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired power plants, as well as other energy sources including renewables.

Energy demand in Southeast Asia is growing at twice the global average.

This growth right on our doorstep leaves the Hunter coal industry well placed in the long term.

According to the Independent International Energy Agency the capacity of coal generation in Southeast Asia will more than double between now and 2040.

Seventy per cent of this growth will come from HELE coal-fired power plants.

According to the Commonwealth Office of the Chief Economist there are 286 HELE plants planned or under construction around the world.

These include five in the Philippines, 11 in Bangladesh, 13 in Japan and 15 in Vietnam.

These advanced power plants provide reliable electricity more efficiently than existing plants, with emissions around 25 per cent lower compared with the older power plants we’re currently using in NSW.

With a reputation for high quality coal, excellent rail and port infrastructure, a world-class mining workforce, and reliability of supply to trading partners over decades, the Hunter region should continue to benefit from the growing demand for thermal coal for energy generation right here on our regional doorstep.

Stephen Galilee is the CEO of NSW Minerals Council