Environment Victoria has criticised planning minister Richard Wynne’s decision to bypass local government planning rules and fast-track a project that aims to convert Latrobe Valley brown coal to liquid hydrogen today, saying it is disappointing and distracts from the real transition the Latrobe Valley needs.
“Coal-to-hydrogen is going to be dead on arrival and is a waste of taxpayers money,” said Dr Nick Aberle, Campaigns Manager at Environment Victoria.
“The technology will be superseded in the next few years by clean hydrogen sourced from renewable energy. Any investment in coal-to-hydrogen infrastructure will quickly become a white elephant.
“Even if carbon capture and storage existed and was commercial – which it isn’t – this would be a very expensive way of producing hydrogen. Renewables-to-hydrogen is already cost-competitive, far less polluting, and will inevitably win the day as the technology of choice.
“The Minister’s decision to exercise his Ministerial discretion and override local planning processes is extremely disappointing and rides roughshod over community concerns.
“It is hard to understand why Richard Wynne would exercise his call-in powers to speed up this pilot scale plant when the consortium behind the project has said there will be no decision on a commercial scale plant until the late 2020s.
“If this is about investing in new energy sources, we should be looking at developing our research base for new types of clean, renewable energy.
“If this is about supporting the Latrobe Valley, it is well past time to look beyond the coal under the ground and start focusing on the best resource in the Valley, which is the people and their skills.
“This is the latest in the coal industry’s long series of fantasy projects for the Latrobe Valley. Over the last 30 years Environment Victoria has watched every single proposed new coal project raise expectations and then fail to materialise.
“The Latrobe Valley needs real economic diversification as we, and the world, move away from coal,” said Dr Aberle.
Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager
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