Coal to hydrogen project reliant on carbon capture pipe dream


(Press Release from FOE 12.4)

National environment group Friends of the Earth has expressed disappointment at the announcement that the Andrews government is proceeding with a trial led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries to convert Victorian brown coal into liquid hydrogen for export.

There are many significant problems with this project:

“Firstly, it is most unlikely it will ever move to commercial phase. This project will only proceed if carbon capture and storage (CCS*) technology is employed” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker. “New uses of coal would come with an unacceptable climate burden unless CCS is deployed and would be inconsistent with the government’s commitment for the state to be carbon neutral by 2050.”

According to the government’s own Statement on future uses of coal, major new coal projects will need to operate within mandated emissions standards. Without CCS, it seems very unlikely that the Kawasaki project would meet this requirement. “Why is the government promoting a project which is at odds with its own policy?” asked Mr Walker.

Friends of the Earth say government expenditure on coal projects is a waste of taxpayer dollars. “Governments have squandered over $1.3 billion on carbon capture projects with no return on investment. This is money that could have been invested in healthcare, education, infrastructure, and climate action.”

“Secondly, the $100m of new public funds allocated to this project represents wasted money that should have gone to job creating projects in the Latrobe Valley that use technology that is already viable. Obvious candidates include renewables, energy efficiency and retrofitting of houses, energy storage, high tech research and developing a business case for the geothermal resource that exists under the Latrobe Valley.

“CCS has already absorbed well over $1.3 billion of public funds and each new dollar invested in this technology represents a dollar that is taken from technology that works.”

“Thirdly, we have to ask who is driving this project? The federal government lacks the state government’s commitment to ensuring CCS is linked to any new coal developments. And government officials continue to promote ‘clean coal’ technology, despite the fact that this technology is going nowhere.”

Friends the Earth say the Victorian government needs to hit the reset button on the matter. “The state government needs to seek more informed advice from energy experts to ensure that future projects reflect best practise technology suitable for the 21st century, instead of relying on advice which is clearly aligned with promoting the ‘clean coal’ pipe-dream.”

*we have commented on CCS and the coal to hydrogen project here.