Blog | 27th Jan, 2014

More 'clean coal' projects bite the dust

In early January, we learned that two coal projects are out of the running for $90m of State and Federal government funding under the ‘Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program’.

Environmental Clean Technologies (a case of false advertising if ever there was one) and Exergen announced to the Stock Exchange that they missed out, which likely puts their projects on ice, if not on the scrap heap. That’s a win for anyone concerned about Exergen’s crazy plans to build a pipeline to transport coal from the Latrobe Valley, process it in a massive industrial facility in the mangroves at Hastings and export 11 million tonnes of coal each year via Westernport Bay.

We don’t know how many companies are still in contention for the government handout, but we understand it will be split between Ignite Energy Resources, Coal Energy Australia, and Shanghai Electric. You can find out more each of these companies in our Coal Wannabes report. We know Greg Hunt has been spruiking the merits of Ignite’s technology, even though it will only make very polluting brown coal into slightly less polluting brown coal, and even then it won’t be available for almost a decade.

But it seems the Napthine Government is in the process of crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s on contracts with the three companies, and we’re expecting an official announcement in March. Spending $90 million of taxpayers’ money on coal projects in an age of climate change is a foolish decision, but it seems at this stage to be a foregone conclusion. Whether the companies who receive the funding actually proceed with their projects is much less certain and we’ll certainly be working to ensure no polluting projects get off the ground.

The larger decision the Napthine Government has before it is whether it plans to proceed with a coal allocation. This is the process by which the Government could hand out billions of tonnes worth of state resources, meaning the prospect of even more coal mines replacing farmland in Gippsland. Most of this coal would be exported and become carbon dioxide above a power station in Asia.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan told us in a meeting with him in December that the Government would “hasten slowly” on the coal allocation. It’s starting to sound to us like they’re not convinced it’s a great idea, but we know we’ve got to get a rock-solid commitment to rule out a coal allocation from all parties contesting this year’s election and won’t rest until we do so.

On the topic of allocations, back in 2002 the Government gave AGL an allocation of 2 billion tonnes of coal next to their existing Loy Yang mine. This was handed over so that AGL could build a 1000 MW “clean coal” power station. This project never happened, but AGL still wants to keep the coal. We’ve got an opportunity now to keep the coal in the ground – take action and tell the Napthine Government to take away AGL’s coal allocation.

Finally, if you haven’t already signed our “No Coal Exports” petition, please do so. If you have already signed it, perhaps call your state MP, no matter which party they’re from, and tell them that coal allocations and coal exports are not part of the Victoria you want to live in.