Jul 21, 2014

Hunt pins hopes on uncompetitive clean coal technology

Analysis of cost forecasts for clean coal technology suggests it is uncompetitive compared to renewables.

Paddy Manning

Crikey business editor

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt anticipates that clean coal technology will be available to cut emissions from coal-fired power stations within three to five years.

It is a misleading claim: the technology is years from commercial viability, let alone from being rolled out at scale, and the claimed emissions reductions pale in comparison to the cuts that would be made if cheaper renewable energy were chosen instead.

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27 thoughts on “Hunt pins hopes on uncompetitive clean coal technology

  1. Bort

    Renewables such as solar are finally competitive from a market standpoint right here, right now. It’s complete ideological madness from our government and it quite rightly opens up claims of vested interests. Solar thermal is an amazing technology that could easily replace coal fired plants and utilise existing poles and wires infrastructure.

    We stand on the verge of the next industrial revolution (despite ridiculous claims that the Greens want to send us back to the stone age), it’s ironic that this government are the ones who want to keep us in the past. I’m sure telegraph operators tried to deter use of the telephone, but we know how that turned out. Renewables will eventually come into mainstream use, but I worry, not just about the environmental damage, but the damage to our international reputation as a leader in technological innovation.

  2. Jimmy

    Not surprising that Hunt is again peddling misinformation, the whole anti carbon tax campaign has been built on untruths and even in the last week or so he has been denying the existance of oher carbon trading schemes and claiming that the Libs Carbon farming policy (which is just expanding the ALP’s policy) will be the answer to stopping climate change (despite CSIRO research showing about 2/3rd of the australian mainlaind would have to be used just to get close to the 5% reduction levels.

  3. Roger Clifton

    DICE could help wind win over the Bush.

    Thank you for providing those costings. However please include costings for the gas backup for when the window doesn’t blow. In that instance, the cost of the fuel appears strongly in the $/kWh column for wind. And the cost of liquefied coal is likely to decrease with time whereas gas is more likely to rise. That is apart from any tax on GHG emissions, which should be harder on (methane) gas than coal.

    However on the small scale, compared to diesel, the lower fuel cost for liquefied coal potentially enables wind to penetrate all those diesel micro-grids around the Bush. Liquefied coal uses the same plant as diesel, so the existing standing diesel generators may (or may not, depending) be converted to liquefied coal at much lower capital cost than new plant.

    With wind to offset the cost of fuel, the micro-grids converted to wind+DICE may well outcompete diesel on sites ranging from homesteads to minesites, and even to minor towns.

  4. MJPC

    Hunt is kidding himself. Available 3-5 years, clean 30-50% of current emissions…the world will be beating a path to our door wanting to buy this technology…not!
    The US has solar plants/molten salt (no emissions, available now) coming on line that will make solar the way to go (together with other renewables)
    This is indeed a sad government, wasting CSIRO research on yester-centuries technology.

  5. zut alors

    What do Greg Hunt & Walt Disney have in common? Both manufacture fantasy.

  6. michael r james

    @Roger Clifton at 2:04 pm

    “That is apart from any tax on GHG emissions, which should be harder on (methane) gas than coal.”

    With that illogic and inversion of facts, Roger (Dodger?) must be rehearsing for a PR job for Hunt …

    As to your final sentence, here is New York Times last week:

    Clean Power, Off the Grid
    By DAVID J. HAYES, JULY 17, 2014
    In Alaska, for instance, the vast majority of the more than 200 small, isolated communities populated primarily by native Alaskans rely on dirty, expensive diesel fuel to generate their electricity and heat. As in other remote communities throughout the world that have no grid to fall back on, diesel generators now provide the only reliable option for these desperately poor towns to meet their essential energy needs
    In collaboration with government labs, the state of Alaska, private companies and investors, the United States is developing modular wind and solar energy systems that will work in isolated communities in Alaska, on island nations, in the African bush and elsewhere.
    These systems are remarkably compact. Consider one that would provide enough renewable power for electricity, heating and cooling for a village of 100 to 200 people. It would include a refrigerator-size control center and a similarly sized container for storage batteries. The power would come either from one to five wind turbines, each about 100 feet tall with 20-foot-long blades, or from a solar panel array covering 700 square feet or more.]

  7. leon knight

    Hunt needs to hire Andrew Blot as his press-secretary, this is a very hard sell that needs a PR master – I reckon Blot would take the job on for lazy mill or so per year, part-time.

  8. Electric Lardyland

    Why is (rhymes with) Hunt pretending that it might? Well, I suspect that it might be because so-called, clean coal, provides coal infatuated, denialist governments, with a permanent alibi to do nothing in regards to emissions reduction.

  9. Patrick

    I can remember Howard banging on about clean coal technology several years back saying it was a solution in the “near term”. I have read about several pilot clean coal projects since then and they always seem (a) to suck a big chunk of money from government and then (b) end in failure. It’s like a conversation I have with my kids – we can do this the easy way (solar & wind) or the hard way (clean coal).

  10. Scott

    You want to talk about exportable technology…if we get this carbon capture stuff right we could sell it to the world.

    According to the IEA, 27% of the total energy supply comes from coal, compared to 0.9% renewables (exluding hydro)(2010 data). And this has grown from the 70’s.

    If we could sell the DICE technology (under licence of course) to every one still using coal; not only will be will generate some income from that technology, we will also keep the coal industry alive in Australia, and possibly grow it.

    Surely that is in Australia’s best interests.

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