News | 5th Aug, 2010

Proposed coal plant application withdrawn

Thursday, 5 August 2010
Adam Morton, The Age

The company behind a proposed coal power station in the Latrobe Valley has withdrawn its application for approval from the Environment Protection Authority.

Dual Gas — a subsidiary of Melbourne company HRL — said it would resubmit its application after adjusting the design of the Morwell plant to meet new greenhouse gas emissions standards announced by the state government last week.

The Brumby government's climate change white paper set an emissions-intensity limit for new power plants of 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of energy generated.

HRL estimates its plant would have average emissions between 0.78 and 0.89 tonnes per megawatt hour — roughly equivalent to a modern black coal power plant.

A government spokeswoman had warned the EPA would only approve the plant if it met the new emissions standard.

The proposed HRL plant would use new technology to run on synthetic gas derived from brown coal, supplemented by natural gas.

It is understood it may be able to meet the new emissions standard by adjusting its design so that it uses less synthetic gas and more natural gas.

Government spokeswoman Roxanne Punton said the state's emissions standard for new power plants was the toughest in Australia and one of the toughest in the world.

"The government is committed to a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 and support for low-emission technology will help ensure we can meet that target," she said.

But green groups said the government's standards did not go far enough if the state was to meet Mr Brumby's 20 per cent target.

The withdrawn HRL application says its plant's emissions would be up to 36 per cent lower than the cleanest existing Victorian brown-coal power plant, but would still release up to 4.2 million tonnes of gas a year.

Environment Victoria said its emissions would cancel out the pollution cut achieved under a government plan to to shut a quarter of the Hazelwood brown-coal station by 2014.

Greenpeace called on the state government to reduce its emissions standard to 0.4 tonnes per megawatt hour — a level that would allow the cleanest gas-fired baseload power plants and renewable energy.

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