Carbon Capture & Sequestration


Clean Coal: Factsheet

Clean Coal: Factsheet


Building new fossil fuel power plants is expensive, polluting and damaging for community health.


Our energy system needs overhauling.

Australia’s energy system is ageing, inefficient  and polluting. 

It is not coping with escalating extreme weather, like heatwaves and storms. 

It is not adequately adapted to 21st century, smart technology.

In addressing this major issue Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says our new energy system must achieve three objectives:

1. Be clean (low emissions) 

2. Affordable

3. Reliable


Coal power doesn’t meet any of these criteria. 

Yet the Federal Government is misleading the public by promoting “clean coal” as the way forward.


1. There is no such thing as “clean” coal.

When dug up and burned, coal pollutes
the environment and damages our health. 

Burning coal for electricity emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land, severely impacting on the health of miners, workers and communities.

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering estimated coal’s health impacts cost taxpayers $2.6 billion every year.

More efficent  coal plants labelled “ultra supercritical” (what the Federal Government calls “clean coal”) emit significant greenhouse gases. 

A new high-efficiency  coal plant run on black coal would produce about 80% of the emissions of an equivalent old plant, while renewables (eg. wind and solar) emit zero emissions. 

So-called “clean coal” does not help Australia meet its obligations to reduce its emissions 26-28% by 2030 below 2005 levels.

Press link for more: Climate Council


Carbon Capture & Storage is just too expensive #auspol #insiders 

The World Coal Institute noted that in 2003 the high cost of carbon capture and storage (estimates of US$ 150-220 per tonne of carbon, $40-60/t CO2 – 3.5 to 5.5 c/kWh relative to coal burned at 35% thermal efficiency) made the option uneconomic. 

Coal isn’t ever clean! 

But a lot of work is being done to improve the economic viability of it, and the US Dept of Energy (DOE) was funding R&D with a view to reducing the cost of carbon sequestered to US$ 10/tC (equivalent to 0.25 c/kWh) or less by 2008, and by 2012 to reduce the cost of carbon capture and sequestration to a 10% increment on electricity generation costs. 

These targets now seem very unrealistic.

A 2000 US study put the cost of CO2 capture for IGCC plants at 1.7 c/kWh, with an energy penalty 14.6% and a cost of avoided CO2 of $26/t ($96/t C). 

By 2010 this was expected to improve to 1.0 c/kWh, 9% energy penalty and avoided CO2 cost of $18/t ($66/t C), but these numbers now seem unduly optimistic.

Figures from IPCC Mitigation working group in 2005 for IGCC put capture and sequestration cost at 1.0-3.2 c/kWh, thus increasing electricity cost for IGCC by 21-78% to 5.5 to 9.1 c/kWh. 

The energy penalty in that was 14-25% and the mitigation cost $14-53/t CO2 ($51-200/tC) avoided. 

These figures included up to $5 per tonne CO2 for transport and up to $8.30 /t CO2 for geological sequestration.

In 2009 the OECD’s International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated for CCS $40-90/t CO2 but foresees $35-60/t by 2030, and McKinsey & Company estimated €60-90/t reducing to €30-45/t after 2030.

ExxonMobil is proposing that, where amine scrubbing is employed, the whole power plant exhaust is directed to a carbonate fuel cell which will generate over 20% more power overall, instead of costing 10% of the power due to diversion of steam. The CO2 still needs to be disposed of.
In Australia the $240 million Callide Oxyfuel project in Queensland aims to demonstrate oxyfuel capture technology retrofitted to a 30 MW unit of an existing coal-fired power plant and to research how it might be applied to new power stations.
 The plant was commissioned in 2012 and was to run for an extended test period until November 2014.

 By mid-2013 the project had demonstrated CO2 capture rates from the oxyfuel flue gas stream to the CO2 capture plant in excess of 85%, and produced a high quality CO2 product suitable for geological storage. 

The project achieved more than 10,000 hours of oxy-combustion and more than 5,000 hours of carbon capture from Callide A. 

The plant was then decommissioned. 

CS Energy led the project and is working closely with an international team of partners including IHI Corporation (Japan), J-Power (Japan), Mitsui & Company (Japan), and Xstrata Coal.

Also in Australia the $150 million Delta Post Combustion Capture project hosted at Delta’s 1320 MWe Vales Point coal-fired power station in NSW aimed to demonstrate capture and sequestration of 100,000 t/yr of CO2 by 2015. 

However, after massive losses the plant was sold for a token sum in November 2015, with no mention of the CCS project.

Both Australian projects were funded by federal and state governments and the coal industry.

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Carbon Capture & Storage (Clean Coal) is a myth. #auspol 

It’s a frigid day for Mississippi, and Barbara Correro’s oven-warmed kitchen is packed with women – neighbors who’ve gathered to share their opinions and dish the latest gossip. 

Correro does her community organizing the Southern way: a hearty meal, complete with gold-rimmed china plates and pitchers of sweet tea; there’s also coconut cake, pecan pie, and pralines.

It’s a small army of naysayers and rabble-rousers, and some feel a little concerned about giving me their names. (“This is where I’m getting all the oranges and eggs thrown at me in town,” said local resident Claudia Rowland with a nervous laugh.) 

Other locals I meet email me later to request anonymity. 

Now that the Kemper County landscape is so radically transformed, resistance can feel futile – and unpopular: There’s just no stopping it now.
Barbara Correro, in her kitchen.

Still, these locals have their doubts. 

Water, for instance, is on everyone’s mind: “Kemper County is known for its water,” Correro says. 

Mississippi Power’s property buts up against Chickasawhay Creek, which runs through her backyard.

 Chickasawhay Creek runs to Okatibbee Lake, a nearby reservoir where many Kemper County residents fish. 

Mississippi Power maintains that the plant is a “zero liquid discharge facility” and that “none of the water used to generate electricity will end up in surrounding streams and rivers.” 

That does not apply to rainwater that falls on site, however, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has nevertheless granted the facility water discharge permits naming those very bodies of water.

“This permit is just an emergency permit for extraordinary situations,” says Harry Wilson, who does permitting for the MDEQ. 

“They’re a consumer of water — they don’t need to release water. 

I would consider the coal entity’s permits to be quite restrictive.” 

But nobody in the room believes that any time there’s a heavy rain, it won’t just wash the plant’s byproducts into the river. 

Nobody in the room believes that the hazardous chemicals to be isolated at the plant – sulfuric acid, anhydrous ammonia – are being effectively captured prior to combustion; they only know the chemicals are going to be manufactured and trucked along local roads, and that anhydrous ammonia is a key ingredient in both fertilizer and powerful homemade bombs. 

And many express misgivings about the land reclamation practices at the Red Hills lignite mine to the north, pointing to puny pine trees and desert-like conditions. 

“No matter how much topsoil they put back, it will be contaminated,” argues resident Ginger McKee.

The company has done little to assuage their fears.

 There were a handful of safety meetings and there were hearings in Jackson, but, says local resident Jennifer Pletcher, “It’s like, ‘Thank you very much, your three minutes are up, we appreciate you telling us how you feel, and see you later.’”

And none of this touches the broader concerns about the plant that have nothing to do with its impacts on local land, air, and water.

 Pletcher points out that Mississippi Power’s federal grants and tax write-offs only require it to attempt to build the carbon-capturing equipment. 

According to an analysis by carbon policy consulting group Element VI, both the DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative and IRS code section 48A, under which the plant has received $412 million in tax breaks, use vague language such as “intent to capture and geologically sequester,” “plans to capture and sequester,” and “includes equipment which separates and sequesters.” 

If the price of CO2 sales doesn’t exceed the cost of carbon capture, analysts argue, Southern Company has very little incentive to keep its promises; it only has to prove that it tried. (“We are both confident in and committed to our plan to capture 65 percent of CO2 produced by the plant,” a Mississippi Power representative wrote in an email.) 

It takes about 20 to 30 percent more coal, in the end, to power a coal plant that aims to clean up after itself.
Then, there’s what many critics – including oilman Thomas Blanton – call the project’s biggest irony: The carbon captured from the plant will be used to extract more fossil fuels.

 An integral part of the Kemper project’s financial plan is to sell its captured CO2 to companies that will use it to coax oil out of decades-old wells using a process called ” enhanced oil recovery.” 

According to Mississippi Power’s website, it has contracted with two companies, Denbury Resources and Midstream Treetop Services, to send the CO2 down a 61-mile pipeline. 

 The plan: “to find oil that was previously unreachable.”

So far, nearly every CCS power plant in the world bases its financial survival on this tactic. 

According to a Denbury Resources petroleum engineer, enhanced oil recovery can keep more CO2 under the ground than a barrel of oil will put back into the atmosphere.

 But even his calculation leaves slim margins: at best, about 65 percent of what’s gained from carbon storage is cancelled out by burning the additional oil.

Complicating all this, too, is the fact that capturing carbon requires energy, which means producing more carbon. 

It takes about 20 to 30 percent more coal, in the end, to power a coal plant that aims to clean up after itself.

Carbon dioxide should, theoretically, stay in the ground where it is “sequestered.” 

Geologists have been researching carbon storage for some time, and feel confident that CO2 can be safely stored in the tiny pores of sandy, salty rock that are tucked under impermeable shale formations thousands of feet underground.

 “The first concern people have is, ‘isn’t it all going to leak back out?’” says Curtis Oldenburg, a senior scientist and program lead for the Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

 “But that’s really, really unlikely. 

If done properly, safe sites can be found and CO2 can be stored effectively and indefinitely – I have no doubt about that.”

Some researchers are nevertheless beginning to doubt: In January, geophysicists at MIT found that CO2 injected deep underground stays in a “more tenuous form” than previously thought, which means “it remains mobile and it can possibly return back to the atmosphere.”

The devil is in the details, Oldenburg concedes, particularly when those details are man-made.

 “The big concern when it comes to leakage is not the natural system,” he says. “It’s the wells.”

When it mixes with water, carbon dioxide is corrosive – it dissolves iron and steel.

 Industry giants such as Baker Hughes have developed corrosion inhibitors to prevent leaks and blowouts, but Thomas Blanton, who owns several oilfields, thinks it’s pointless.

 “All these applications leak,” he says. 

“Carbon dioxide sequestration in an oil field is science fiction standing squarely on the shoulders of a myth.”

In Mississippi, one of the largest fines the Department of Environmental Quality leveraged in the last decade was against Denbury Resources for an uncontrolled carbon dioxide blowout in 2011. 

The metal casing on an abandoned well in an oilfield near Yazoo City, about 40 miles north of Jackson, had been stripped, and the 2,000-foot hole spewed carbon dioxide, drilling mud, and other chemicals for 37 days.

 The CO2, heavier than air, settled in adjacent valleys and suffocated deer and other wildlife. 

Local neighborhoods were evacuated, several workers were sent to area hospitals, and Denbury placed a 24-hour ambulance on site while workers toiled to clean up the mess.

Denbury Resources has been responsible for a handful of similar blowouts in Louisiana and elsewhere in Mississippi.

 In 2013, carbon dioxide bubbled up in a water well near the Heidelberg oil field, where the Kemper facility’s CO2 is to be pumped. 

The field is in the center of town, and buts up against the fenceline at Heidelberg High School.

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Clean Coal is an OXYMORON #auspol 

‘Clean coal’ is an oxymoron

Rep. Ralph Watts’ Iowa View piece [Trump can bring back coal, Jan. 27] tries to support the continued use of coal by using Trump’s success to justify junk science and the status quo. 

The EPA and the open-minded can see the truth in climate change, and that we should make every effort to save our planet. 

It is ludicrous to save jobs for coal miners but in the process speed up climate change, which is caused by increasing levels of CO2 from the burning and processing of fossil fuels. 

The level of CO2 in our atmosphere has gone from 280 to 400 parts per million in my lifetime.

 That number had not been above 280 in 400,000 years.

I am a mechanical engineer and worked for our local utility on various projects at coal-fired power plants for 35 years. Clean coal is almost an oxymoron. 

To be completely pollution-free, the CO2 from burning coal would have to be captured and disposed of, and that is expensive and requires a lot of power and equipment.

Trump and his fellow travelers will set our environmental programs back more than the the four years he may be be in office. 

The effects of climate change are minor now, but the weather changes and possible anarchy 20 years from now won’t be nice. 

I’m glad I won’t be here to see it. 

What’s sad is it could be prevented.
— Tom Benge, Bettendorf

Press link for more: Desmoine Register


Coal-fired generators have no future. #auspol 

The simple truth: Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia

By Ian Verrender

An investment of that magnitude also requires huge amounts of project debt 
Govt may fund coal power

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could be used to fund new clean coal power stations.

What it found was that none of the new technologies can deliver power as cheaply as our current batch of carbon belching coal plants.
When it came to renewable energy, wind was the winner while among the new-generation fossil fuel plants, gas-fired combined cycle plants and supercritical coal-fired generation came out on top.

In a nutshell, the study explains that renewable energy has high upfront costs but is extremely cheap to run, given the fuel — wind and sun — comes at no cost. 

Gas plants are cheaper to build, but have higher running costs.
But there’s one crucial cost that weighs heavily on the minds of investors and bankers. 

And that’s carbon.
According to the CSIRO, if a carbon price was introduced, the economics of power generation shifts in favour of renewables, although a relatively high price is required. 

Wind is competitive with new-generation coal at $30 a tonne of carbon dioxide, solar at $70 a tonne.
Carbon storage, the kind of technology the Government is now looking at, can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to up to $70 a tonne.

The simple truth: Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia

 Barnaby Joyce holds a lump of coal in the House of Representatives

PHOTO: The debate over carbon emissions and electricity couldn’t have occurred at a more appropriate time. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Maybe it’s the heat, or the unprecedented run of searing temperatures scorching the continent.
Whatever the cause, the torrid debate in Parliament over carbon emissions and electricity in recent months couldn’t have occurred at a more appropriate moment.
The only problem is that every politician, state and federal, has always clung to the truism that power begets power or, perhaps the inverse; that whoever delivers blackouts gets booted out of office.
Turnbull’s turnaround

The man who lost the leadership by fighting to introduce a carbon price is now against renewable energy, Stephen Long writes.

As the finger-pointing over higher prices nationally, blackouts in South Australia and threatened disruptions across the eastern states escalates, any notion over rational debate on how best to address the nation’s long-term energy challenges has evaporated.
Put aside the irony that the recent run of misfortune on the national electricity grid is the direct result of a savage uptick in extreme weather conditions, a trend the vast bulk of climate scientists have been warning of for decades.
The simple truth is that, despite the entertaining theatre of insults in the national capital, Australia’s future power needs overwhelmingly will be provided by renewables and gas. 

Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia.
That is a trend driven by energy generators and consumers, both of which have abandoned hope of policy leadership from Parliament.
Generators jettisoned the idea of coal years ago, at least when it comes to building new power stations, because they carry too much risk.

 You’re looking at upwards of $1 billion for a large-scale coal-fired generator that would be expected to last around 50 years.
No rational businessperson is willing to commit that kind of funding over that period, in an electoral cycle that lasts just three years.

 And that’s just the equity side.
An investment of that magnitude also requires huge amounts of project debt and, faced with the prospect of stranded assets and non-performing loans, financiers have wiped their hands of the idea of coal-fired electricity.
Consumers, meanwhile, have plunged into renewables, with Australians among the world’s fastest adopters of rooftop solar.
Renewables v coal
Sadly, much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point-scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage; where ignorance dominates academic research. 

The recent power outages in South Australia are a prime example.
While it has become fashionable to denigrate scientists, particularly when related to climate or energy, it’s worth reading through the CSIRO’s 2015 report into Australia’s future energy needs.
“Electricity grids are complex systems and the largest machines ever developed by humans,” it notes.

With that in mind, it attempted to compare the costs of various forms of power generation, from traditional fossil fuel plants to the renewable technologies and everything in between.
Govt may fund coal power

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could be used to fund new clean coal power stations.

What it found was that none of the new technologies can deliver power as cheaply as our current batch of carbon belching coal plants.
When it came to renewable energy, wind was the winner while among the new-generation fossil fuel plants, gas-fired combined cycle plants and supercritical coal-fired generation came out on top.
In a nutshell, the study explains that renewable energy has high upfront costs but is extremely cheap to run, given the fuel — wind and sun — comes at no cost. Gas plants are cheaper to build, but have higher running costs.
But there’s one crucial cost that weighs heavily on the minds of investors and bankers. And that’s carbon.
According to the CSIRO, if a carbon price was introduced, the economics of power generation shifts in favour of renewables, although a relatively high price is required. Wind is competitive with new-generation coal at $30 a tonne of carbon dioxide, solar at $70 a tonne.
Carbon storage, the kind of technology the Government is now looking at, can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to up to $70 a tonne.

 Scott Morrison holds a lump of coal in Parliament

PHOTO: “On this side of the house you will not find a fear of coal,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Carbon pricing is inevitable
Although early attempts at pricing carbon emissions have failed, no-one in the power industry, or those that finance it, is under any illusion that emissions will be free forever.
It is the same in mining. 

Every major corporation views carbon pricing as inevitable and includes a range of prices when determining the economics of long term projects.
Why is everyone talking about a carbon tax?

These are the five things you need to know about the debate over carbon pricing.

Given the significant costs levied on those putting waste into landfill and the prohibition on disposing of noxious materials into our waterways, it’s remarkable that to this day, the atmosphere is freely used as a garbage dump at no cost.
Last week, a study commissioned by the Minerals Council claimed that renewable energy in Australia was the beneficiary of huge subsidies.
Large-scale renewable projects, it claimed, were on the receiving end of $1.8 billion in direct subsidies last year alone. That’s a claim rejected as simplistic and incorrect by those in the renewables industry.
Whatever the number, there is no doubt that renewable energy has been on the receiving end of vast subsidy handouts both for large scale and home generation here and around the globe.
But it’s equally true that, in the absence of a carbon price, high-polluting industries have been getting a free ride, not only by avoiding the cost of damage to the environment and the planet, as the science overwhelmingly points to, but through the damage to the health of countless millions of people.
It’s also worth noting that every Australian coal-fired power plant was built with taxpayer money. As were the electricity distribution systems.

 And while many since have been sold to private interests, the sales processes have thrown up some interesting numbers.
When the NSW government sold its electricity generation assets for $1.5 billion, the deal was hailed a breakthrough.

 But the Tamberlin Inquiry in 2011 discovered about $4 billion worth of taxpayer subsidies to the generators in the form of cheap long-term coal contracts.
Coal-fired generators also use huge amounts of water, much of which — unlike farmers — is gifted to them.

 Then, of course, there are the would-be new coal miners up in the Carmichael Basin — most notably the Adani family — with their hands out for about $1 billion in taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
What’s the solution?
From an economic perspective, it would be far more efficient to eliminate subsidies altogether and to put a price on carbon that reflected its true cost.

 Private investors then would be able to choose which technology was most efficient.
One of the great drawbacks of renewables has been the intermittent nature of its generation. As a famous politician once noted wryly:
“If the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, there is no power being generated.”

That’s true. 

But energy storage, particularly batteries, is the game changer that could rectify that shortcoming.
Just as the cost of solar panels has plummeted in recent years, as production technology has improved and the huge demand from households and business has improved economies of scale, the same can be expected from energy storage technology systems.
That will create a new set of technical headaches and cost challenges on how best to maintain a national power network, for which we appear to be entirely unprepared.

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Handouts to Coal Power Doesn’t Make Sense #auspol #Climate

Why coal-fired power handouts would be an attack on climate and common sense

Bayswater power station, near Muswellbrook

The recent coordinated push for new coal-powered electricity generators in Australia comes as the industry is on its last legs.
The intensified push for government handouts can be seen as a last-ditch attempt for the coal industry to squeeze some money out of the unwise investments it made at the end of the mining boom.

Here are the facts and figures that point towards that conclusion.
Australia joined 174 countries and the European Union in 2015, signing the Paris agreement. 

In doing so, Australia agreed to do its part in keeping the global temperature rise “well below” 2C.
It also commits countries to achieving net-zero emissions “in the second half of this century”.
That agreement, designed to stop runaway climate change, requires that all of Australia’s coal-fired generators close.

According to the International Energy Agency, OECD countries such as Australia need to shut down almost all of their coal-fired power stations by about 2035.
And the rest of the world will need to phase out coal power by 2050, it says.
With coal-fired power stations taking up to a decade to build, and designed to last 30 or 40 years, building new ones now is obviously inconsistent with those commitments.
In particular, Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a commitment that is not strong enough to limit global warming at 2C and will need to be “ratcheted up”.
But the Australian government recently released projections of the country’s carbon emissions showing that current policies are going to cause emissions to rise to 2030, not drop, leaving Australia overshooting that commitment by a long way.
In producing those projections, the Department of Environment and Energy assumed that 2,000MW of coal capacity would retire between 2020 and 2030, and that the generation would be taken up by existing coal and some gas. (That’s equivalent to about two large power stations.)
If, instead, even more coal is built, the already rising emissions would get even worse.

Demand for coal for electricity has been dropping
Meanwhile, even before coal generators begin to close, the demand for their power has been dropping as renewables enter the mix.

According to data from the Office of the Chief Economist, the demand for coal-generated electricity has dropped by more than 15% in the past eight years.
Moreover, New South Wales budget papers show that the state government has recently downgraded its projections for domestic consumption by a whopping 20%.
Last year it estimated domestic consumption would be 30m tonnes a year for the next five years. This year it changed that estimate to just 24m tonnes each year.
In response to the new figures, the NSW Greens’ energy spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham, said: “Coal power has been in decline for nearly a decade and it is clear that no one is going to build a new coal-fired power station anywhere in Australia.
“Coal is the whale oil of the 21st century and should be phased out as rapidly as possible for the sake of the climate.”
New coal is the most expensive form of energy
While the proponents of coal talk about coal power being “cheap and reliable”, they are wrong on both fronts.
Coal is now the most expensive form of new power.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of energy from a new coal power plant would be $134-$203/MWh.
That’s more expensive than wind, solar or highly efficient combined-cycle gas (costing $61-$118/MWh, $78-$140/MWh and $74-$90/MWh, respectively).

 Levelised cost of new energy sources in Australia in 2017.

 Levelised cost of new energy sources in Australia in 2017. (AUD/MWh) Photograph: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Coal is not ‘reliable’ anymore
Whether or not an energy source is “reliable” depends on what you’re relying on it for.
The only people who still think we need the old-fashioned sort of “baseload power” that coal provides – power that is always running regardless of whether you need it – are those in the coal industry.
Coal power stations are slow to start up and so can’t respond efficiently to fluctuations in supply and demand.
Old energy systems were built assuming coal would always be running. It was the “baseload” energy and other forms of energy such as gas would switch on to satisfy the peaks in demand.

In a world where wind and solar energy can produce a lot of energy, but not constantly, baseload needs to be replaced with flexible power that can smooth out the spiky energy supply created by variable sources of renewable energy.
In the short term, that can be gas. But, in the longer term, to stop runaway climate change, that service will need to be supplied by renewable sources such as battery storage, hydro, solar thermal with storage or geothermal.

When competing with renewables, coal generators end up burning costly fuel, even when they are giving the electricity away for free.
Leonard Quong from Bloomberg New Energy Finance said when releasing a recent report: “In the grid of the not-too-distant future coal’s baseload operation becomes a curse, not a blessing.”
And Steven Holliday, the chief executive of the UK’s National Grid, recently said: “The idea of baseload power is already outdated.”
The coalmining industry has a backlog of projects it can’t get off the ground
According to the Office of the Chief Economist’s most recent Resources and Energy Major Projects Report, there are 37 major coalmining projects that are currently in the works.
However, that number has dropped since the last report a year ago and, in that time, no new projects have moved from along the pipeline from being “committed” to “completed”.
If all the projects still listed as being actively pursued were to reach completion, they would produce almost 300m tonnes of coal each year.
Adam Walters from Energy & Resource Insights said that list is a “salient reminder, if one is needed, that vast amounts of proposed new coal capacity, much with most approvals in place, remains waiting for a favourable market”.
He said most of those projects were begun during the mining boom, when commodity prices were high. With prices depressed, they’ve stayed on the books but are not progressing.
The push for rejuvenating the coal industry with government subsidies is the sort of thing that could help the industry get some of these projects back on track, Walters said.

The global coal industry recently saw its biggest player, Peabody, go bankrupt in the US. If companies are forced to take write-downs for these projects by admitting they will never go ahead, it could mean the end for some of the companies.
At his National Press Club address last week, Malcolm Turnbull appeared to point to this as the reason he is now looking to subsidise the most expensive and dirtiest form of energy, saying that it could help our mining industry. He said: “As the world’s largest coal exporter, we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art, clean, coal-fired technology.”

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The long arm of #ClimateChange #auspol 

Snow may have fallen in Ras Al Khaimah over the weekend but the Arctic is unusually warm. 

With temperatures almost 30°C above normal in some areas, sea-ice cover has fallen to record low levels. 

Dark seas instead of white ice absorb more sunlight, driving further global warming. 

Last year was already the hottest year on record worldwide. 

And human emissions of greenhouse gases are almost certainly responsible.

Meanwhile, progress on some of the main elements of climate policy is far short of what is needed. 

These include a binding global agreement to reduce emissions; sharp reductions in emissions; and dealing with the backlog of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.
April’s acclaimed Paris climate agreement, signed by 194 states including the UAE, is non-binding. 

Signatories are not committed to any consistent plan of action, but only those they themselves propose – and there is no enforcement mechanism. 

The US seems set to withdraw, or at best not to implement its commitments.

Even if all countries fulfil their Paris plans, the world will warm by 2.5°C to 3.1°C by 2100, better than the 4°C without climate policies but above the still-dangerous 2°C limit that Paris was meant to achieve.
On emissions cuts, there is much justifiable celebration in the renewables industry over recent progress in solar and wind power. 

These are now more competitive than coal or gas power generation in many areas, although backup remains a concern. Companies such as Tesla are also confident that electric cars, so far numbering just 1 million out of more than a billion vehicles globally, are about to take off.

Electricity generation creates one quarter of global emissions, with transport – which also includes planes and ships – contributing 14 per cent.
Industry, agriculture and forestry and the energy industry’s own consumption are the other big polluting sectors; they require other approaches beyond renewable energy and more efficiency.

 Industries could partly switch to clean electricity. 

But making cement, chemicals and steel unavoidably produces carbon dioxide.

 Capturing this at source and storing it underground or using it to make useful products or solid minerals is the only apparent solution. 

But many environmentalists oppose carbon capture and storage, and it receives just a fraction of the support that has gone to solar, wind and electric cars.
Even if emissions are cut sharply from now, the accumulated atmospheric legacy, and the momentum from continuing economic growth, mean temperatures will keep rising. 

So actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is essential, both to tackle this backlog and to mop up continuing emissions that are too dispersed to capture. 

Carbon dioxide can be removed by reforestation, by burning plant material in carbon capture-equipped power plants or by “artificial trees” that absorb the gas from the air.
Given this dangerous climatic picture, Gulf countries need to reduce their own emissions.

 Dubai and Abu Dhabi are making encouraging steps in removing wasteful energy subsidies and introducing solar power. Intelligent investment into research and deployment of new energy technologies can help to build a clean and diverse future economy.
GCC states can play a unique role in carbon capture given their favourable combination of geology and industry.

 The Adnoc-Masdar joint venture Al Reyadah is a pioneer. But from 21 large-scale carbon capture plants operating or in construction worldwide today, we need thousands by mid-century. 

Both of these, and actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, are essential to preserve the region’s fossil fuel endowment in the global energy mix.
The Gulf states need to prepare for nasty climate surprises – heatwaves, floods or droughts in their neighbours – whipping up the storm of turbulent regional politics. 

The Arctic may be far from the UAE, but the arm of climate change has grown long.
Robin Mills is the chief executive of Qamar Energy and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis.

Press link for more: The National


Deutsche Bank vows to end new coal lending, in line with Paris Agreement #auspol 

Where will Turnbull & Trump get the money for new coal? 
Deutsche Bank vows to end new coal lending, in line with Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement and the global divestment campaign has secured one of its biggest victories to date, after banking giant Deutsche Bank announced it would halt investment in new coal projects in line with its commitment to the international climate change treaty.
In a short statement on its website under the heading “amended guidelines for coal financing,” the European banking giant said the company and its subsidiaries “will not grant new financing for greenfield thermal coal mining and new coal-fired power plant construction.”

It added that the bank also will “gradually reduce its existing exposure to the thermal coal mining sector.”
The bank said the reforms were directly linked to its support for the Paris Agreement, which in late 2015 committed all governments to the development of a net zero emission economy this century.
This emphasizes the bank’s commitment to protect the climate and to contribute to the overall targets set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees.
“By signing the Paris Pledge for Action alongside over 400 private and public organizations, the bank has welcomed the universal climate agreement made at the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris,” the statement read. “This emphasizes the bank’s commitment to protect the climate and to contribute to the overall targets set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”

The move also follows a high profile 2014 campaign in Deutsche Bank’s native Germany, which led to the bank pulling out of a deal to invest in the expansion of the Abbott Point coal port in Australia.
The latest decision is part of a growing trend that has seen thousands of investors commit to divest their holdings in coal and other carbon intensive projects, following warnings they could be investing in a “carbon bubble.”
Some analysts have warned that if policymakers honor the commitments in the Paris Agreement demand for coal, oil and other carbon intensive fuels will fall sharply in the coming decades as rival clean technologies become increasingly dominant.

They argue that as a result many fossil fuel assets that promise long term returns are overvalued and could deliver diminishing returns in the future, with the most carbon intensive assets, such as coal, deemed the most at risk.
Decisions to halt new coal investments are also being driven by short term trends in the coal market, according to some analysts, with sluggish coal prices and tightening project pipelines meaning it makes little financial sense to invest in upstream and downstream assets in those markets that are easiest to access.

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Trump & Turnbull two peas in a pod Love #coal #auspol Dirty Business 

“Clean Coal” Power Generation Costly And Risky

Turnbull & Trump two peas in a pod when it comes to coal! 

The Coalition’s ambitions for building power plants based on “state-of-the-art clean coal-fired technology” are meeting a good deal of resistance – and not just from tree-huggers.
In an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull outlined his party’s vision of a technology-agnostic approach to energy in Australia; which it seems will include digging up and burning a lot of coal – albeit in a somewhat cleaner way.
South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis called the prospect a “fairy tale idea with no basis in reality”.
“Companies are not going to make a 50-year investment decision to build new coal-fired power stations when gas and renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner,” he said.

Industry groups also expressed concerns over re-igniting Australia’s love affair with burning coal for power generation.
Coal fired power generation

The Australian Energy Council, which represents 21 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses, said the industry had no plans to start building coal power stations.
“Over the past decade major generators have shelved plans to develop new coal fired generation, as the 50 year life of the assets and their relatively high emissions profile made them uninvestable,” said Chief Executive, Matthew Warren.
Energy Australia, Origin and AGL have all provided a less than enthusiastic response to the PM’s clean coal power vision.
The Grattan Institute also pointed out clean coal costs are considerably higher than that of existing plants.
“And the scale of the required investment, combined with climate change policy uncertainty, makes it highly unlikely that such plants could be financed without government backing.”
With regard to backing, something that may send a shiver down the Australian renewable energy sector’s spine is the potential for money earmarked for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to be siphoned off into so-called “clean coal” projects.
“Coal is a big part of the future under a Coalition Government and clearly that’s not the case under the alternative,” said Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison.
“It’s the Clean Energy Finance Corporation — it’s not the wind energy finance corporation.”
An ABC report states power prices could double if these new clean coal-fired power stations are built.
The wholesale electricity price required for newly built cleaner coal-fired generation has been put at between $135 and $203 per megawatt hour.

A recent wind project on the NSW and South Australian border is generating power at just $65 per megawatt hour and a solar power project in Queensland is estimated to be generating electricity at $80 a megawatt hour.
With a new focus on energy storage also announced by the PM yesterday (and generally well received) ; the baseload argument for coal also becomes less convincing say some critics of the clean coal plan.

Press link for more: Energy Matters


Fact check Turnbull’s Clean Coal speech #auspol #thedrum @abcnews #climatechange 

​Fact Check: Turnbull’s Speech on Australia’s Energy Future


Yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed the National Press Club, describing energy as a “defining debate of this parliament”.
The speech set out Turnbull’s vision for Australia’s energy future – covering renewable energy, “clean” coal, gas, power prices and electricity security. Here’s a snippet:

CLEAN COAL??? Yep, it seems to be back on the agenda. And that’s not the only spanner in the works – below we breakdown Turnbull’s statements on energy, pointing out the right and the wrong.
What Turnbull got wrong
Clean Coal Forever
Turnbull: “Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal… Old, high emissions coal-fired power stations are closing down as they age, reducing baseload capacity… as Australia is a big exporter we need to show we are using state-of-the-art clean coal-fired technology… Coal will have a role to play for many decades into the future.”
When Turnbull talks “clean” coal, it is unclear whether he means coal plants that are more efficient than Australia’s ageing clunkers, or whether he means coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Whichever the case, let’s be clear: clean coal is NOT A THING.
Both of these “clean” coal technologies are expensive (much more so than renewable alternatives) and still emit greenhouse gases. Large-scale wind and solar plants are already cheaper than new “more efficient” coal plants, and waaaay cheaper than coal plants with CCS.
Pump Up The Gas
Turnbull: “Increasing gas supply in Australia is vital for our energy future and vital for industries and jobs, but State bans on onshore gas development will result in more expensive and less reliable energy.”
Investing in more gas will not result in cheaper energy and reduced emissions. Gas is actually becoming more and more expensive due to Australia’s LNG export industry sending most of our gas offshore. And in states like SA, gas power companies are using their market power to maximise profits, driving power price spikes at opportune times.
Lastly: gas, like coal, is a fossil fuel – producing significant greenhouse gas emissions when produced, transported and burnt. Gas is not the solution.
Cheap Energy
Turnbull: “The battlelines have been drawn – it’s clear that the Coalition stands for cheaper energy. We are approaching this issue clear-eyed, pragmatic and objective.”
This statement directly contradicts Turnbull’s plans for new gas and coal power plants in Australia – which will not deliver cheaper electricity to Australians.
Wind and solar plants are already cheaper than new coal, gas and nuclear plants. So if the Coalition really stands for cheaper energy, they’d be backing renewables all the way.
Renewables = Power Price Hikes
Turnbull states: “Our energy is among the most expensive in the OECD… South Australia, now with the most expensive and least secure energy has had its wake-up call – one storm blacked out the entire state. But Labor snores on… continue their mindless rush into renewables.”
It’s true that Australia has some of the most expensive power in the OECD. But the main cause of household power price hikes has been network investments, retail charges and – in some places – the increasing price of gas.
Renewable energy is unfairly scapegoated. It’s already reduced the wholesale cost of power, and is helping homeowners and business owners control their energy bills with rooftop solar.

Just so we’re clear: Building expensive new coal or gas plants will do nothing to alleviate power prices.
States’ “mindless rush into renewables”
Turnbull: “States are setting huge renewable targets far beyond that of the national RET, with no consideration given to the baseload power and storage needed for viability… But Labor snores on, heedless of what awaits the rest of the country if Labor governments and would-be governments continue their mindless rush into renewables.”
Renewable energy targets set by state and territory governments have played a crucial role in keeping the renewable energy industry alive in Australia, as federal government support has wavered in the past three years.

If we waste more time arguing the merits of a renewable energy future, then investors, innovation and jobs in clean energy will simply go elsewhere. Our States’ targets are much closer to the level of action needed on climate change, as modelling for the Climate Change Authority has shown.

Turnbull: “Bill Shorten’s energy plan, whether it is a 50 per cent RET by 2030 or double our Paris emissions reduction target by 2030, is a sure recipe to deliver much more expensive and much less reliable power… Labor’s approach is driven simply by ideology, heedless of cost or the thousands of jobs that it will destroy.”
Renewable energy doesn’t destroy jobs. Renewable energy creates jobs – from plant development, construction and operation, to producing and installing solar panels.
Detailed modelling from Ernst and Young showed that 50% renewable electricity by 2030 would create more than 28,000 jobs nationwide – nearly 50% more than a business as usual scenario.
There are now more jobs in renewable energy than in coal in Australia. And worldwide, there are now more than 8 million people employed in renewable energy. So if jobs are the main game, renewable energy is a winner.
What Turnbull got right
Ok, so that’s it for the bad stuff. Fortunately, there were a few glimmers of hope in the speech as well:
Power Policy Trifecta
Turnbull states: “Australia should be able to achieve the policy trifecta of energy that is affordable, reliable and secure, and that meets our substantial global emissions reduction commitments as agreed in the Paris climate change treaty.”
These three principles of clean (low pollution), affordable and reliable power are appropriate. They are the driving principles of the Finkel Review currently underway by Australia’s Chief Scientist.
Energy Storage
Turnbull states: “Energy storage, long neglected in Australia, will also be a priority this year… Large-scale storage will support variable renewables like wind and solar… and it will enhance grid stability.”
It’s great to see energy storage highlighted as a priority. It’s crucial that Australia makes the right investments now to support low emissions electricity, because the energy infrastructure we build will lock-in Australia’s future emissions for decades.
A range of technologies, including large-scale energy storage, are available to make our existing grids stronger. Examples include:
Greater interconnection: e.g. the proposed interconnection between SA and NSW

Energy storage: e.g. pumped hydro and batteries, which can store energy for use later ensuring consistent supply to meet demand

Energy efficiency and demand management: e.g. to maximise the use of rooftop solar

Different renewable energy technologies: e.g. Port Augusta’s proposed solar thermal plant
And one more thing…
Taxpayer funds spent on clean coal were wasted
Turnbull: “We’ve invested $590 million since 2009 in clean coal technology research and demonstration and yet we do not have one modern high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power station, let alone one with carbon capture and storage”.
Surely, if anything, this is a stunning admission of wasted government spending? That we would invest almost $600 million in clean coal technology, and have nothing to show for it?!
And yet Turnbull continues to plug the virtues of “clean” coal, while renewable power such as wind and solar is already cheaper than new coal, and getting cheaper by the minute.

Press link for more: Climate Council