Aust, Japan power difference stark: Lib MP

Marnie Banger
Tim Wilson

Unlike maverick Nationals MP George Christensen, the Liberals' Tim Wilson did not embark on a coal-industry sponsored trip to Japan this week armed with letters urging companies and leaders to invest in new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

Instead, the MP says he went to learn, and discovered just how different Japan's energy system is to Australia's.

"It's clear that Australia has an energy system from the 20th century and Japan has one for the 21st century," Mr Wilson told AAP on Thursday.

The major distinction between the nations, he said, is that Japan has been replacing its old coal-fired power stations with new ones that produce fewer emissions and operate more efficiently.

Having inspected JPower's Isogo plant, he said the difference between such efficient power stations and the older models back home was "quite stark".

Mr Wilson said such a transition in Australia has been hampered by between 15 and 20 years of policy uncertainty, which the coalition's National Energy Guarantee is aiming to rectify.

He expects some complementary mechanisms may be needed to encourage new investments.

The MP was one of several to take part in the tour organised by the coal industry through its COAL21 Fund, aimed also at demonstrating how Australian coal is powering Japan's advanced steel industry.

Earlier this week, Mr Christensen revealed he had been tasked by Resources Minister Matt Canavan to hand-deliver letters to Japanese officials and businesses on the trip, pushing for clean coal technology investment in Australia.

"I've spoken to all these companies before and I heard George was going over there last week, so I thought it was a good opportunity to follow up on those discussions," the minister said.

"They're all keen as mustard to invest in clean coal technologies in Australia."