Mining industry pushes coal power

VICTORIA’S peak mining body wants a new brown coal power station using the latest technology should be built in the Latrobe Valley.
Nanjing Night Net

The Victorian division of the Minerals Council of Australia argues that in this way, the talents of hundreds of Latrobe Valley workers would not be wasted, and power prices would be lower and power supply would be more reliable.

“Victoria is an integral part of the NEM. We have a role to play in that,” Victoria’s MCA executive director Gavin Lind told the Gippsland Times, especially as Hazelwood was about to close and Yallourn W power station did not have a long scheduled life.

In discussions with the state government over its coal policy statement, due this month, Dr Lind said the council had urged keeping the option to use brown coal as an energy resource and contributor to the national market.

The MCA argues the Hazelwood (coal) reserve should not be destroyed.

“The end point is rehabilitation, a lake . . . the minute you do that, that resource is sterilised,” he said.

The closure of Hazelwood as an owner generator and ‘miner’ of brown coal also meant the government was losing a big royalty stream.

“It’s suddenly gone,” he said.

The MCA claimed it was the tripling of brown coal royalties that was paying for the government’s $250 million Latrobe Valley economic package.

“Non-energy users of brown coal will also have to get the coal from current brown coal users. There is community expectations about jobs and the closure of that pit, but whatever you do, do not sterilise that reserve.”

Dr Lind emphasised that new technology coal plants could deliver low-cost, reliable energy with up to 50 per cent fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

“There are more than 700 high-efficiency, low emissions (HELE) plants being built in Asia-Pacific.

“They come carbon capture and storage (CCS) ready. You can build it and it has CCS capabilities inherent in it,” he said.

The lower emissions from such plants also meant there was a lot less CO2 to capture in CCS units, creating lower operating costs.

Dr Lind said Victoria’s coal policy needed to cater for the future if someone wanted to build such an ultra-super critical power plant.

“HELE technology is a prerequisite for achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement,” he said.

About half of new coal-fired power plants being built were using HELE technology, such as supercritical, ultra-supercritical (USC) and integrated gasification combined cycle technologies coupled with advanced emission controls.

Dr Lind said Germany was replacing old brown coal plants with modern stations.

For example, the Neurath plant, with two 1100 megawatt units with net thermal efficiency of more than 40 per cent, was the world’s largest lignite (brown coal)-fired USC power plant.

“In 15 minutes, each unit can increase or decrease its output by more than 500MW to help offset intermittent renewable energy,” he said.

This meant they could be effectively used to cover gaps in wind or solar energy availability.

Germany also had to decide on how it was going to replace the more than 12,000MW of nuclear power base load power that was scheduled to be shut within six years.

Dr Lind said USC lignite-fired units were also in operation in China, Europe, Japan, South Korea and the USA.

“With bold vision, that could happen in Victoria,” he said.

Dr Lind said in Victoria, all the pilot projects private enterprise had invested in using brown coal had all been proven in concept, but had not gone further because of scale.

“This is a big challenge for Victoria; there needs to be scale for these things. We know the technology is there and the R and D is there, but we have to think about it differently – how to attract scale and investment,” he said.

“Who will be attracted to it when a state government wants to move out of fossil fuels? How can you attract an investor?”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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