BY: Tracey Carpenter
Potentially another blow to the local coal industry came this week when, India’s Energy Minister, Piyush Goyal announced an ambitious target that could see India cease thermal coal imports within two to three years.
After China recently announced a major city ban on coal followed by a coal tariff on imports, the Indian market for coal had been touted as the saviour for Australia’s coal exports. India now looks set to follow China, America, Japan and the European Union to limit their reliance on imported fossil fuels. This also came in the week that China and the US launched their historic agreement to address climate change and move towards a low carbon future.
Meanwhile the oversupply of coal internationally and depressed prices are hitting local workers hard with more lay offs, closures and work suspensions with little to no warning from companies and even less response from Government. Glencore this week announced that it would suspend operations at Ulan for three weeks next month. Mooralben mine has cut 25 fulltime workers adding to the losses from Centennial mine last month of 100 jobs.
When Electrolux struggled to meet the challenges of globalised markets the State Government stepped in with an assistance package which included waiving payroll tax. It seems Lithgow is being offered a slow death rather than any genuine assistance or transition planning. Renewable energy can offer three jobs for every one in the fossil fuel energy sector. What’s needed is some vision and commitment to the Renewable Energy Target to give the go ahead to the billions of dollars of investment in renewables waiting to be rolled out in this region.
Bathurst Regional Council is to be congratulated on its 50kw solar installation at the Water Filtration Plant, helping to tackle the cost of pumping of the cities water. Council is discovering the cost effectiveness of solar energy solutions which are seeing it re-invest in larger and larger projects.
A British start-up has developed a way for parking lots and structures with roofs that can’t take much weight to harness the power of the sun. The Cambridge, England Solar Cloth Company is beginning to run trials of its solar cloth, which uses lightweight photovoltaic fabric that can be stretched across parking lots or on buildings that can’t hold heavy loads, such as sports stadiums with lightweight rooves. BCCAN is keen to see smart technology like this providing shade and energy in council carparks and also at Bathurst Aquatic Centre. They are already being rolled out in 27,000 carparks in the UK.
Tracey Carpenter is Chair of Bathurst Climate Network (BCCAN)