Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vic Govt puts faith in new coal-powered station

ABC Online, Posted 21 minutes ago

With the Garnaut report due out on Friday and an emissions trading scheme to be introduced by 2010, building a coal-fired power station may not be high on many peoples' agendas.

But the Victorian Government has just approved the building of a new brown coal plant in the Latrobe Valley.

Green groups say the plant will be an environmental disaster but the Victorian Government says the new power station will be the cleanest coal-fired facility in the state.

The $750 million power station will be up and running by 2013, providing its Australian and Chinese developers can secure enough funding.

The Victorian Government is putting in $50 million and the previous federal government committed $100 million from the Commonwealth.

Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor says the 400 megawatt plant's carbon dioxide emissions will be 30 per cent lower than other Latrobe Valley coal-fired plants and use 50 per cent less water.

It will generate enough electricity for half a million homes.

But the Greens Party and environmental campaigners like Environment Victoria say the new plant will be a giant leap backwards.

Owen Pascoe from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says Australia needs to be investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"The carbon emissions from this plant only bring it down to a level of a normal black coal-fired power station, so it's no big achievement. We're still talking about last century's technology," he said.

No rush

But Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor says there is ample time to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"The emissions trading scheme and the climate change target requires us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent but to do that by the year 2050," he said.

"Clearly in that time frame some of the existing power stations will reach their use-by date."

Professor Warwick McKibbin from the Australian National University (ANU) says the Victorian Government does not have any choice but to build a new coal-fired power station.

"Because the demand for energy keeps rising in the economy and base load power is necessary, these sort of large infrastructure projects are going to be happening for the next few decades while we get a climate policy in place that changes the playing field," he said.

But a former chief of the CSIRO's atmospheric research division, Dr Graeme Pearman, is surprised that Victoria looks set to get a new coal-fired power plant.

"Given the state of play with climate change and the need to reduce emissions, this seems like a very strange decision at this point in time," he said.

While the new station will boost Victoria's electricity supply, Dr Pearman is warning consumers they will be likely to have to pay more.

"It seems inevitable that once we have a trading system prices will go up," he said.

"That is the price that each of us individually has to pay to convert from a system that's polluting the atmosphere and changing our climate to one that doesn't.

"But it would seem on the surface of it that there's much more chance of going down a more expensive pathway if we invest in what is relatively old technology in producing electricity from brown coal."

Based on an AM report by Samantha Donovan.

1 comment:

Kracat0a said...

Has anyone thought of combining large scale thermal solar using the existing boilers of the coal power stations? Is there any reason this couldn't be done?
What if it was possible for the thermal solar to preheat the water to 90% and then the super hot coal fire heat to superheat the water for the turbines.
You could make use of a lot of existing infrastructure.
The more solar power is used, the more the company would get carbon credit. Dont underestimate the raw power of thermal solar.. look at the focal point in this picture..
Gigawatts of energy are now being produced by solar power sites. I originally came from gippsland. Perhaps we could make an amazing transition here.
The boilermakers could keep there jobs and other tradies could make a move into the new technologies.
Those are big turbines down there.. why let it all go to waste.