Make money from Carbon: Katter’s call to rethink National Energy Strategy amid Snowy blowouts

Oct 25, 2023

NORTH Queensland’s natural assets are the answer to nation’s electricity woes following regular warnings from regulatory authorities about power shortages, and constant delays and cost blowouts associated with “nation-building” project – Snowy 2.0.

The troubled 2200mw hydro project which was set to be powering about three million homes next year has blown out from about $2bn to $12bn and is unlikely to be generating any power for at least another four years. [1]

Former Queensland electricity minister and Katter’s Australian Party MP Bob Katter said he was baffled why governments hadn’t instead looked to North Queensland to achieve a similar outcome – a region with some of the nation’s tallest mountain ranges, and highest rainfall – two critical components for a successful hydro scheme.

After recently asking the Minister for Climate Change if he was aware, and had a plan for the more than 9000mw in reliable, baseload coal-fired power exiting the grid over the next five years, Mr Katter said he didn’t receive a plan, rather a response stating, “it’s all the Libs’ fault.”

With no concrete plan for baseload generation in sight and constant delays to Snowy 2.0, Mr Katter is calling for a rethink of the nation’s electricity generating strategy, including additional use of carbon to produce valuable by-products.

“The only area where you can get real hydro is in North Queensland – we’ve got the height and we’ve got the rainfall. If North Queensland was its own country, it would be the wettest country on earth.

“Other regions might have the height, but they don’t have the rainfall, “ Mr Katter said in response to the latest tunnel issues revealed at Snowy 2.0.”

The two catchments associated with Snowy 2.0, Talbingo and Tantangara report an average annual rainfall of 850mm and 1996mm respectively. Meanwhile, Tully in North Queensland reports over 4000mm per year.

“The $12bn (estimated for Snowy) could have built the Bradfield Scheme, with Hells Gates’ potential to generate more than 100mw, Tully Hydro 1000mw and a 2500mw modern high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal-fired power station accompanied by algae ponds at Collinsville.”

Mr Katter noted the work of Pacific Bio, an Australian aquaculture and biotech company which through its operations had the ability to “remove 500 tonnes of nitrogen and 500,000 tonnes of carbon annually” according to its chief executive Sam Boustas.

Mr Katter said while he was an advocate for the “drawback on carbon emissions” the nation needed to rethink its attitude towards carbon by products.

“People forget CO2 is a very valuable commodity, you should be utilising it to make money.

“All your soft drinks, they’re full of CO2, or we could be feeding algae all the CO2 – there’s 100 uses for carbon dioxide. Let’s not forget a component of carbon dioxide is carbon, and steel is iron ore and carbon, and there’s thousands of uses for steel.

“We could be making money out of CO2 instead of letting it go to the atmosphere.”