Renewables jobs can't replace coal mining

THE value of Australian coal exports was up 26% in December but that is not stopping some renewables groups urging coal miners to quit while they are ahead and get a job at a solar farm.
Renewables jobs can't replace coal mining Renewables jobs can't replace coal mining Renewables jobs can't replace coal mining Renewables jobs can't replace coal mining Renewables jobs can't replace coal mining

Can installing a wind turbine or wiping down solar farm mirrors really offer an alternative career path to specialised mining personnel.

It almost seems like state governments are covertly in on the deal and proudly plonking renewables hubs in the middle of mining areas and trying to facilitate an exit from coal.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said initiatives being shown by state and territory governments were resulting in a majority of renewable energy employers expecting to increase their workforces over the next 12 months, owing to a large number of shovel-ready projects.

"The clean energy industry can be a powerful catalyst for strengthening the mostly rural and regional communities where these projects are based, providing quality, ongoing job opportunities, boosting local manufacturing sectors and, in turn, supporting the local economy," he said.

Thornton said the Clean Energy Outlook - Confidence Index found New South Wales enjoyed the strongest levels of confidence, with a rating of 7.6 out of 10.

"The NSW government has prioritised the need for transmission upgrades, first acknowledged in its NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy from 2018, and most recently in the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Investment Roadmap," he said.

A proposed gas-fired power station at a former aluminium smelter site has been declared as Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW government because of its significant economic potential for the Hunter and importance for future energy supply.

NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said if approved the power station would generate up to 750 megawatts of electricity on demand as well as create up to 600 jobs in construction as the state sought to wind down coal generation in the Hunter.

"With another player in the energy market, it increases competition and will help mitigate the closure of Liddell's coal-fired power station in 2023, putting downward pressure on electricity prices," Stokes said.

Lock the Gate spokeswoman Georgina Woods said NSW ministers should work together to deliver the transition strategy for coal mining communities.

"The terminal decline of global coal markets could leave thousands jobless if we don't get in front of the changes that are underway and create new and sustainable opportunities for rural New South Wales, as the world shifts to renewable energy," she said.

Hogsback reckons it is very thoughtful of activist groups to consider the employment prospects of highly skilled and well remunerated mining professionals and tradespeople in a world class coal mining industry.

However, can installing a wind turbine or wiping down solar farm mirrors really offer an alternative career path to specialised mining personnel who have developed first class productivity and safety standards in underground and open cut mines?

Can these well-meaning renewables companies and the state governments actively encouraging them really give regional communities the ongoing economic development and employment prospects that coal mining does in areas such as Central Queensland or the Hunter Valley?

Hogsback thinks there would be a huge gap in the Australian economy if coal mining was to pushed out and it would take more than a few wind or solar farms to replace it.