#Coal vs #solar – the true cost of electricity for India’s poor

angryQueensland’s Galilee Basin contains a lot of coal which could create a lot of electricity, but let’s not get precious about why we’re going to export it to India. No Australian government, state or federal, is interested in providing the benefits of electricity to India’s poor. They are only interested in export dollars. As for India’s poor, they cannot afford coal fired electricity.

“The poor will benefit from coal-fired power generation only if you ignore the costs of pollution and if industries can be attracted to rural areas. Without industry, though, electrification for the world’s rural poor requires a different model to that offered by coal-fired power.”

That quote comes from an article written by three Australian academics:

They crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that India’s poor would be far better off with localised, small-scale solar power generation. You can read the Quartz article here:

The deadly cost of bringing coal-powered electricity from Australia to India

Or you can read the original article on the Conversation here:


Now, my fellow Aussies, ask yourselves whether making an almighty mess of the Galilee basin is really worth those export dollars when only large corporations will really benefit?

Then ask yourselves what might have happened had we supported our solar industry [we let it die here or go offshore] instead of coal?

I believe a thriving Australian solar industry could be bringing in squillions of export dollars from the Third World as well as doing a great deal of good for the Third World’s poor. Instead, countries such as China* are exporting solar panels to the world and we are still trying to flog coal.

Clearly the coal industry has a great deal more lobbying power than the fledgling solar industry did. Or perhaps our politicians are just too damned stupid to read the writing on the wall. Or perhaps it’s a bit of both. Either way, we Aussies are the ones who will miss out in the not-so-long-run.

I’m angry,


*This is an interesting article looking at the provenance of so-called ‘Australian solar’.



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

8 responses to “#Coal vs #solar – the true cost of electricity for India’s poor

  • davidprosser

    My lot are considering another nuclear power station even though the firm that was due to build it say it will finish them off. They should all wait, I was quite excited by this…..
    And there’s always wave energy?
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


    • acflory

      They’ve been trying to make cold fusion work for a long time, without much success – i.e. the process uses more energy than it creates – but yes, it is the holy grail in a sense. Just don’t hold your breath!


  • Carrie Rubin

    Interesting to read about. It seems the coal industry has a lot of power everywhere. John Grisham’s novel “Gray Mountain” takes on the coal industry. Rather scathingly too.


  • Candy Korman

    A long time ago—back in 1984—I went to China with my mom. At that time you couldn’t wander around or hire a private guide, you had to go around with a group and see what the Chinese government wanted you to see. (Mom & I flouted the rules a bit and scared our guides a few times, but that’s another story.)

    One of the key things the government wanted us to see was a jade carving factory. My lungs immediate filled with jade dust and I was astonished that few of the workers wore goggles or even a filter mask over their mouth and nose. When we brought this up to our guides, when we said… “Why not learn from the developed world and not repeat our mistakes?” (In both pollution and working conditions) We were told…

    “We wish we had your environmental problems and worker health problems because that would mean we had successful industry.”

    Let’s hope things have changed or are changing enough so that depending on coal when solar is available and possible, it will be the wise choice. The developing world does not have to screw up as badly as the developed world.


    • acflory

      Gah…right on the money, Candy. Unfortunately, the best interests of the poor rarely seem to be the guiding principle behind what governments and corporations do. I’d say this was the dark side of Capitalism except that China is suffering too and they espouse communism…


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