Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Fools on the Hill still vainly searching for viable large scale 'clean coal' technology

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 30 May 2017:

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the Clean Energy Finance Corporation [CEFC] would have its mandate expanded so it could back fossil fuel power plants that include the technology, sometimes described as "clean coal".

The technology, which involves capturing the emissions at the source and burying them underground, was explicitly banned when the CEFC was set up under a Labor-Greens agreement in 2011.

Unfortunately for the foolish, ideology-driven Liberal MP for Kooyong & Minister for Environment and Energy and his equally foolish Prime Minister The Australia Institute released this statement on the same day:

“The Australian Government has put $1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money towards Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) initiatives since 2003, with zero large scale operational projects to show for it. A new report from The Australia Institute’s, Money for nothing, has found that despite years of generous taxpayer funding, there are no large-scale CCS projects operating in Australia and no planned coal CCS projects at any stage of development. Several proposed coal plants with CCS received federal grants, but all have since been cancelled or liquidated.” 

Opening paragraphs of The Australia Institute’s discussion paper Money for nothing by Bill Browne and Tom Swann, May 2017:

In 2007, then-Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $100 million grant for a proposed coal plant at Loy Yang “suitable for” CCS. Turnbull said “Projects like this one … will play an integral role in helping to reduce emissions in Australia”.  Five years later, the grant was withdrawn. The operator has been liquidated.
In February 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put CCS back on the agenda. He argued as the world’s largest coal exporter, Australia has a “vested interest” in promoting clean coal, and lamented that despite substantial public investment over the years “we do not have one modern high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power station, let alone one with carbon capture and storage”.
 In 2009, the head of the Australian Coal Association promised that that we will “have commercial scale demonstration plants with carbon capture and storage in operation in Australia by 2015”.  In 2017 the chief national coal lobbyist said it is “pretty early days” with regards to CCS, which is “an evolving technology”.
 Despite the poor track record of coal with CCS, the Turnbull government is now proposing to fund it through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has previously focused on commercial or near-commercial projects, mostly renewables.
In light of Turnbull’s proposal, this report outlines previous funding to CCS and how little Australia has to show for it.
Since 2003, successive Australian governments have backed their promises that CCS will preserve the coal industry with promises of public money. Over $3.5 billion has been committed towards a wide range of CCS-related projects, initiatives and programs. Over $1.3 billion was identified as actually distributed.
The government found it difficult to find projects to fund, and funded projects often failed. While funding was sometimes ‘clawed back’, other times this was not possible. ZeroGen, a proposed coal plant with CCS, went into administration despite at least $187 million in subsidies. The 99% Australia-funded Global CCS Institute backed more overseas projects than Australian ones and had extravagant operational spending.
The coal industry also announced a $1 billion CCS industry fund, which they said would match federal government spending. The fund has collected and committed only $300 million (mostly for CCS projects), and some of this fund has been spent on election campaign promotion of “clean coal”. Contributions to the fund were deducted against royalties in some states, meaning the fund was subsidised by the taxpayer.

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