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Govt overhaul to allow “green bank” to invest in coal-fired power stations

Scott Morrison brandishes a lump of coal in parliament.

Scott Morrison brandishes a lump of coal in parliament. Photo: AAP

Taxpayers could help pay for coal-fired power stations via Australia’s $10 billion “green energy” bank under changes being considered by the Turnbull government.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has confirmed the government is considering issuing a ministerial directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to consider investing in “clean coal”.

“It’s called the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not the renewable energy corporation,” Mr Frydenberg told the ABC.

The government has been promoting high efficiency, low emissions coal-fired generation to shore up the national energy grid, but there is no appetite in the energy sector to build new coal plants.

Existing Clean Energy Finance Corporation rules say it can only fund new generators that have half the emissions of existing ones.

Even with the latest technology, coal power can’t meet this requirement without using carbon capture and storage.

Mr Frydenberg said the government is considering changing the corporation’s rules to relax that 50 per cent emissions reduction requirement – a move that would require parliamentary support.

Stabilising the country’s power grid is at the centre of his thinking.

“If you can lower emissions and stabilise the system with baseload power, that’s a pretty good outcome for Australian households,” Mr Frydenberg said.

His comments drew a rebuke from South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.

“When ‘clean’ has its meaning expanded to include ‘coal’ you realise how busted national electricity policy truly is,” he said.

AAP

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