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