by Simon Smith | 20 October 2016 | 15:07:58The power supply that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war has gone up for sale, with the UK’s biggest electricity company selling it for a record £2.1bn.
The man who made it happen was an engineering genius who was tasked with turning a derelict coal-fired power station into a fully-fledged power station.
His name was Jack Nicholson, and he died in 2004 at the age of 81.
But for decades he was remembered as the man who changed the world.
And now, his legacy has been reborn after a sale of the coal-burning station’s assets to a consortium of US and Canadian investors, who plan to use the money to build a nuclear power plant.
In a statement on Thursday, the consortium said it wanted to invest £1.2bn of its own money to transform the site of the defunct plant in Coogee, south-west of Sydney, into a plant capable of generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity.
The new power station will be built by a consortium led by Duke Energy, the nation’s largest utility.
The sale follows a public tender for the plant by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which will see the tender for a coal-powered station awarded.
The coal-power station was a disaster, Nicholson told his colleagues when he was told the coal was a poor choice of material.
But as Nicholson prepared for a farewell speech, he was convinced that coal would be a better option than coal-based power.
He believed the world was going to hell in a handbasket and the only way to stop it was to start burning coal.
Nicholson said he was determined to be the hero of the world, but it took a while to find that courage.
The first coal mine in Australia was built at the site in the 1970s and Nicholson took the job with both hands.
He said it was not until he was working in a mine in the 1980s that he realised he had made the right decision.
“I realised that I had taken the wrong decision, and I had to be much more assertive about it,” he said.
“That’s when I realised I was not doing the right thing.”
If we don’t start with coal, we’re going to get to hell, and that’s going to be catastrophic for us all.
“A new era in coalThe sale of Coalgate will not only help Australia’s energy industry, but will also bring about a new era for coal in Australia, with new investment opportunities for Australian coal mines and a new source of jobs.”
The sale is going to create thousands of new jobs, thousands of construction jobs, and a lot of other jobs in the coal industry,” said Nick Deakin, an analyst with energy consultancy Clean Energy Economics.”
There’s a lot more that will be created than can be replaced.
“It will create millions of jobs in Australia’s coal industry, it’s a big investment in the future of the country.”
Nicholson was part of a team that found a way to build the plant from a derestructed coal mine, which was then turned into a power station in the early 1990s.
“Jack Nicholson’s great idea was to turn a dereliction of a coal mine into a nuclear plant,” said Andrew Roberts, chief executive of the Australian Coal Association.
“He knew what it was like to build nuclear power plants and he knew how to do it.
And so he took on that task, and it took him some time, but he got it done.”
In a speech, Nicholson said the new plant would generate more than enough electricity to power about 2 million homes and more than 200,000 businesses.
“It’s going for the low-end of that [power] price,” he told reporters.
“What we’re doing is trying to make the most of what’s available, because we don’ want to get too much coal in the mix.”
Nichols said he believed that Australia was on the cusp of a new, modern era in the manufacture and use of nuclear energy.
“When the world goes nuclear, it will not be a disaster.
It will be a new energy future,” he added.”
We will be able to run the country without a power grid, and without coal, and we will be running the country for many years to come.”
The sale also comes amid an international debate about the safety of nuclear power.
Last month, Japan’s government announced that it would suspend construction on its first nuclear plant in 2020.