[ASC-media] Meadia release: call for energy fast-track

JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Wed Feb 9 09:09:04 EST 2005

CRC CSD Media Release 05/01 

Wednesday, February 9, 2005


There is an urgent need to fast-track both the new technology and the training needed to secure Australia's future energy supply.

The Chief Executive of the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development (CCSD), Mr Frank van Schagen said today Australia faces a massive investment of $60 billion to meet its projected 50 per cent rise in demand for electricity by 2050.

"At the same time it is Australia's international responsibility to play our part in reducing CO2 emissions."

To meet both goals in a way the nation can afford will require the introduction of high-efficiency, low-emission generation technologies, combined with carbon capture and storage, Mr van Schagen said.

The policy instruments designed to reduce Australia's emissions will be important in the behaviour that it stimulates in the electricity market, he said

In a study exploring this aspect of market response to lowest cost future options led by CCSD researchers Peter Coombes of Delta Electricity and Paul Graham of CSIRO  we may conclude that there is no single energy technology that will meet all Australia's needs - but that the way forward will be through a mix of technologies.

If steep cuts in CO2 emissions are required, then carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be essential, they conclude.

If Australia allows its power sector greenhouse emissions to rise - though at a slower rate than 'business as usual' - the best option will be a mix of combined cycle gas (CCG) and coal-based ultra-super critical (USC) or integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technologies, the study finds.

"Our findings parallel those of the recent ABARE report into Near Zero Emissions Technologies released a few weeks ago," Mr van Schagen says.

"Both conclude that if Australia is to reduce emissions CCS is likely to be a mainstay of future energy policy.  The costs of alternatives are prohibitive and would crush the economy.

"Our study also focuses on the need for a mix of the best new technologies, which are both highly efficient at delivering low-cost power and also reduce emissions."

Ultra-super critical (USC) coal-fired generation operates at very high temperatures and pressures to produce electricity far more efficiently.  If oxygen is injected (the so-called oxy-fuel cycle), this helps to concentrate CO2 emissions for capture and storage. The study found this worked best if Australia follows a medium-low emissions reduction path.

In IGCC, coal is converted to a gas mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide which can be burned to drive a steam turbine to make electricity, and the resulting CO2 captured. This is widely regarded as the most promising technology and works best if Australia goes for a high emissions reduction strategy.

"To meet rising demand of 2-2.5 per cent a year for electricity, Australia needs to double existing generation capacity.  This will entail an investment of around $30 billion, plus a similar sum for power distribution. To do that there must be high confidence in the technology," Mr van Schagen says.

"At the moment Australia has neither pilot USC nor IGCC technology, nor do we have the requisite skills in generation with these technologies.  And if we don't have the skills, there is a real risk we may make the wrong technology choice."

"It is now urgent that we fast-track both the development of pilot plants and also the creation of a national skills base in advanced power generation technologies."
Mr van Schagen says his CRC is currently supporting commercial interests in their proposal to demonstrate IGCC at scale. Costing around $350-1,000 million, if it goes ahead, it will probably be the largest and most expensive RD&D project in Australia's history.

More information:
Mr Frank van Schagen, CEO , CCSD, 07 3871 4400

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