Coal’s chal­lenge is re­spectabil­ity

Aus­tralia is in fore­front of the tech­nol­ogy needed to solve coal’s prob­lems, writes Keith Orchi­son

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Clean Energy -

THE fu­ture of coal as a low emis­sions fuel for elec­tric­ity is now linked to 45 tech­nol­ogy projects around the world — and 13 of them are in Aus­tralia. The launch ear­lier this month of the south­ern hemi­sphere’s first car­bon diox­ide stor­age project in the Ot­way basin, west of Melbourne, is an ex­am­ple of re­search putting Aus­tralia at the fore­front of car­bon cap­ture de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to pro­fes­sor John Kaldi.

Ade­laide Univer­sity’s Kaldi, chief sci­en­tist of the Co- oper­a­tive Re­search Cen­tre for Green­house Gas Tech­nolo­gies ( CO2CRC), says the $ 40 mil­lion Ot­way project, which will bury CO 2km be­low ground, is one of the few

2 around the world to store car­bon diox­ide se­curely, demon­strat­ing the fea­si­bil­ity of geose­ques­tra­tion.

‘‘ CCS — car­bon cap­ture and stor­age — is not science fiction,’’ he said, ‘‘ and the Ot­way project will play an im­por­tant role in demon­strat­ing the safety of the tech­nol­ogy to in­dus­try, gov­ern­ments and com­mu­ni­ties world­wide.’’

The other Aus­tralian CCS projects in­clude: ■ A $ 220- mil­lion, 400MW coal- fired power com­plex at Coolimba, West­ern Aus­tralia, in­tended to start in 2011- 12, us­ing a sys­tem where the fuel is com­busted in pure oxy­gen. ■ A $ 180- mil­lion demon­stra­tion oxy­fuel project at Cal­lide in Queens­land, in­volv­ing retrofitting an ex­ist­ing power sta­tion to cap­ture and store up to 50,000 tonnes of CO , start­ing in 2010. ■ A $ 2- bil­lion hy­dro­gen power op­er­a­tion at Kwinana, West­ern Aus­tralia, tar­geted for com­mis­sion­ing in 2012, with up to four mil­lion tonnes of CO to be stored an­nu­ally.

2 ■ A $ 445- mil­lion, 100MW project at Fairview, Queens­land, in­tended to burn coal seam meth­ane and in­ject CO in to de­pleted mine

2 seams. ■ Test­ing small projects at the Hazel­wood and Loy Yang power sta­tions in Vic­to­ria’s La­trobe Val­ley, in which brown coal will be dried and CO cap­tured af­ter com­bus­tion, aimed at

2 demon­strat­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of retrofitting tech­nol­ogy to ex­ist­ing plants. ■ A $ 750— mil­lion HRL Tech­nol­ogy project to build a 400MW plant where brown coal is dried and then gasi­fied be­fore com­bus­tion fol­lowed by CO cap­ture and stor­age.

2 ■ A $ 6- bil­lion joint ven­ture of Monash En­ergy, An­glo- Amer­i­can Com­pany and Shell in the La­trobe Val­ley to dry and gasify brown coal, pro­duce syn­thetic diesel fuel and then cap­ture and store the plant’s C emis­sions, which may be up to 10 mil­lion tonnes a year.

A $ 1- bil­lion ZeroGen project ad­ja­cent to Stan­well power sta­tion in cen­tral Queens­land, in­volv­ing gasi­fy­ing black coal and pip­ing the plant’s 400,000 tonnes a year of CO emis­sions 200km for burial.

A $ 150- mil­lion demon­stra­tion plant able to cap­ture 50,000 tonnes of CO a year to fol­low a $ 5 mil­lion pilot project cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion at Delta Elec­tric­ity’s Mun­morah power sta­tion on the cen­tral coast of New South Wales.

Kaldi says the work of the CO2CRC, and the multi- bil­lion plans for clean en­ergy de­vel­op­ments based on its find­ings, demon­strates that car­bon cap­ture and stor­age have great po­ten­tial for deep green­house gas emis­sion cuts in Aus­tralia from ma­jor sta­tion­ary sources such as power sta­tions.

The fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed $ 500 mil­lion in­vest­ment in a Na­tional Clean Coal Fund of­fers sig­nif­i­cant recog­ni­tion of CO2CRC’s work, he adds, and of­fers the prospect of fur­ther gov­ern­ment fund­ing for the cen­tre’s pro­grams.

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