I’ll have a go and i’ll give you basic stuff from a technology point of view.
To be fair those power plants mentioned were all at end of life or were beyond at end of their life. So significant money has to come from somewhere to build new plants (upgrades to existing locations will still cost a lot of money).
So it comes down to if we have X money what can we get the most for?
Yes people on one side complain that renewables cost a lot of money to build, but what is the cost of a new coal power plant? How long will it take to come online and where is the low emmission tech coming from? The biggest and best example comes from the US where on plant is 3x over budget and is now being converted to gas cause the clean coal tech was simply too complicated and too untested on a large scale.
Then there is nuclear. Nuclear is extremely expensive to build. Also we don’t have a storage facility in Australia to deal with spent fuel (in numbers that come from a power plant). Nuclear is designed for 50 years but if you look at plants that have been decommissioned it will take another 30 or so years to do just that. The clean up is immense.
Let’s focus on specifically wind and solar PV. It has the most money being invested here with regards to research. Like all technology the more research is put into it the cheaper it becomes and the trend continues to show. Batteries with wind and solar will cost more but remember to replace them and the clean up is a lot cheaper than decommissioning a coal or nuclear plant. Recycling batteries also already exists and about 98% of it is recyclable. Nissan has already a product for recycling batteries from all their electric test and early model electric vehicles. The issue they have is that the batteries are lasting longer than they projected and don’t have enough recycled stuff.
Wind, ah we just didn’t do it right here. Have a look at a company called DONG (funniest name ever). Huge company that makes wind turbines. Majority of it’s customers build where wind works best, off shore where winds are nearly always constant. The blades are also now more refined and more advanced than ever before. Also props are now also like on modern turbo props where they can change their angles to maximise efficiency based on the amount of wind. Efficiency of turbines compared to those ten years ago are 3 fold. Also we are using the tech from oil platforms to install them. So even installation prices are falling for difficult to install places.
Also with solar and pv they are always small installations compared to coal. If we say a coal plant would cost $3B what would be the wind, solar, battery equivalent? It’s always a 400MW coal vs a 15MW solar plant. Hardly fair is it?
The electric car thing is also a bit of a furfy. There are many examples right now that the grid can actually rely on a lot of those cars that are plugged into the network. So if each car plugged in were to feed the grid during a peak time (normally peaks don’t last for more than an hour) we’d have the perfect peak solution. The software is smart enough to be configured to only take power from cars with a full charge too. Oh but doesn’t that damage the battery? Turns out no as well. Studies have shown that we don’t use electric cars enough and discharging them like this actually helps the life and performance of the battery! As for ever increasing population, well we haven’t actually consumed more electricity. It’s been flatlining since about 2008 or so. As tech gets better so does energy consumption. Have a look at a fridge or a tv or an air con unit. Even compare a PS2, PS3 and PS4.
As for exports, well we are number 1 in the world for lithium being exported and lithium being available in the ground.
There are extreme sides where certain groups do want all mining to stop but like you say there are also a lot of people who want the sensible solution and ignore these extreme views as well.
China and India are also super interesting with their investment. China have met their 2022 goal for solar last week and still have they said about 22GW more to put in by the end of the year. India also has just negotiated the cheapest ever rate for electricity and it’s coming from solar farms. A lot of coal investment is starting to stop cause they just can’t compete. India do a lot of their projects via reverse bidding sort of like SA did.
Can I also suggest you have a look at some of the projects that have come on because of renewables. The biggest issue is that there is too much energy in some places (on a sunny and windy day) and getting it off the grid. There is even a site in the UK where there is too much energy is powers a hydrogen making plant. How clever is that?
But to summarise, with technology you have to keep up with the latest news. Coal power plants is essentially steam age tech and being a train driver i’m sure you can appreciate the difference between steam, diesel and a brand new AC electric diesel from GE. Some of the stuff you have mentioned is already a bit out of date.