Australia will rely heavily on coal-fired power plants due to the collapse of an emission trading scheme and the subsequent lack of a carbon price, Origin energy’s CEO has announced.

Origin Energy chief Grant King told The Australian newspaper that having a renewable energy target of 20% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020 is pointless without a price on carbon.

He said a carbon price of $20-$40 a ton would be required to start making a gas-fired power station more economically viable than one fired by coal, according to King.

“Without a carbon price, coal remains the cheapest fuel for power generation,” he said before adding that in the absence of any policy change “we will keep building coal-fired power stations”.

Australia’s energy demands can be aided by wind and solar power, however, they were not reliable providers and there is a strong need for base-load power, according to King.

Origin Energy currently operates three gas-fired power stations and another 630MW gas-fired base-load power station is underway at Queensland’s Darling Downs.