Australia’s energy future is firmly aligned with its uptake of solar power and other renewable sources, regardless of what defenders of the coal industry say.

So it is right that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will receive subsidies of up to $2.8 billion a year up to 2030. 

If anything that is a little low, given what China and some of the other big players are putting into the industry, but it does represent a significant boost in terms of R&D and hopefully, big improvements in battery storage and peak load storage.

So it is depressing to hear that National Party still has its head in the sand when it comes to supporting Australia’s energy future.

Barnaby Joyce apparently got loud cheers when he spoke to the party faithful in Canberra saying "We have no problem in coal fire (sic) power.”

He wants all renewable subsidies removed (but presumably not the $1 billion subsidy the government wants to give Adani to build its coal railway from the Galilee Basin).

It is understandable Mr Joyce wants to protect what remains a powerful industry in this country and one that employs a lot of people, including in parts of Queensland where the Nationals hold seats.

But he should be having an honest conversation with people in those places about how they can transform their economies away from coal, not simply deny the future and pretend coal is still king.

I understand how businesses in Townsville are welcoming Adani as an economic boost to the city, but these businesses I talked to were moteliers, printers and others suppliers of goods and services.

Any new industry coming to town, not just coal, would suit their needs.

Despite what the likes of Senator Matt Canavan says, the world is moving away from coal (Japan has a temporary coal need while it recovers from Fukushima, but will eventually go solar too).

For Australia to hitch its future to coal-fired power is long-term economic suicide, never mind the environmental impact.

We have coal in abundance, but it is non-renewable and a tiny blip of possibilities compared to what we could do with our sunshine. Let’s use it. – Derek Barry