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Retirement of coal fired power stations

Submission 29 - Attachment 1



Retirement of coal fired power stations
Submission 29 - Attachment 1


Executive summary ............................................................................................................... 1

1. The energy policy context and the role of base load electricity in the economy ................ 2
1.1 Open energy markets are fundamental to Australias future prosperity ................... 2
1.2 The importance of the coal industry to the Australian economy............................... 2
2. Australias electricity security ............................................................................................ 5
2.1 The need to ensure long-term energy security in the NEM...................................... 5
2.2 There is limited understating of the nature of electricity........................................... 5
3. Transitioning to a low emissions energy sector: a reality check ........................................ 8
3.1 There are a mix of solutions .................................................................................... 8
3.2 HELE coal-fired technology ..................................................................................... 8
4. Enhancing coals contribution ......................................................................................... 10
5. Demonstrating CCS in Australia part of the international Solution to climate change ..... 14
6. CCS is a cost competitive option to meet electrcity demand growth .............................. 16
Appendix 1: Key low emissions coal technologies............................................................... 17
Appendix 2: The high efficiency low emissions road map ................................................... 20

MCA Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee

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Submission 29 - Attachment 1


Key points
The demand for coal is set to continue for decades
- Australia continues to benefit from growing demand for affordable energy in India, China
and SE Asia and their collective need for Australian high quality coals.
Low cost electricity, built on coal-fired power generation, was an essential element of
Australias comparative advantage during the 20 century and modern coal technology can
deliver the same benefit this century.
This economic edge has been lost over the last decade due to costly policy interventions
including the carbon tax, the expensive Renewable Energy Target, a lack of a national energy
plan and deep uncertainty about future electricity prices, reliability and security.
Australia does not have to choose between coal and a low emissions future. New coal
generation technologies are reducing CO2 emissions by up to 40 to 50 per cent and carbon
capture and geological storage offers the prospect of reducing emissions by up to 90 per cent.
There are 725 HELE units in place in Asia alone, with another 1150 planned or under
An informed debate is crucial
- There is limited understating of the nature of electricity, where it comes from and the
complementary roles that renewables and fossil fuels can and do play.
The announcement of the closure of the Hazelwood power station, and the recovery issues in
South Australia after its blackout are a reminder that Australia must work to maintain its long-
held competitive advantage in low cost electricity.
Under a technology-neutral approach to Australias energy needs, the Latrobe Valley and
other areas where there is a geographic concentration of coal-fired power generation or heavy
industry, and skilled employees still have a big future.
As part of a medium term plan to keep domestic energy costs down and CO2 emissions levels lower,
Australia should seek to capitalise fully on its rich natural endowment in all baseload energy sources.

MCA Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee 1

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1.1 Open energy markets are fundamental to Australias future prosperity

Over the past twenty years, reform of the electricity market has confirmed the enduring value of
moving to a more open market approach. In particular, National Competition Policy Reforms and the
formation of the National Electricity Market (NEM) have delivered substantial benefits to Australians
and proven generally robust. 1 The gains of these microeconomic reforms are a direct result of state
and federal governments acknowledging and embracing the benefits of opening up previously highly
regulated, state-based markets.
Australias capacity to meet future projected energy needs in a secure, cost effective and sustainable
manner must continue to be underpinned by a competitive and efficient NEM. To achieve such an
outcome, the MCA is a strong advocate of an open, competitive and integrated national electricity
market that is:
Governed by nationally consistent regulation of generation, transmission and distribution to
promote efficiency and eliminate unnecessary costs and risks.
Transparent, with no artificial barriers to entry.
Non-discriminatory and therefore non-distortionary between energy sources.
Free of mandated targets, fuels or technologies.
Attractive to further investment in worlds best practice generation and transmission capability
and in new technologies to meet the burgeoning energy demands of the future while reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
Australias electricity markets are highly structured and ultimately constrain purely competitive
outcomes. This is why policy needs to give investors, consumers and planners a clear sense of
direction and confidence in Australias energy future.
1.2 The importance of the coal industry to the Australian economy
Australia is the fourth largest producer, the second largest exporter, and has the fourth largest
reserves of coal in the world. Most of Australias recoverable Economic Demonstrated Resource
(EDR) of black coal is located in Queensland (61 per cent) and New South Wales (36 per cent). In
New South Wales, the coal is predominantly located in the Sydney Basin (30 per cent) and in
Queensland, it is in the Bowen Basin (31 per cent). All of Australias recoverable lignite EDR is located
in Victoria with approximately 93 per cent in the Latrobe Valley.
Coal is the countrys principal source of affordable, reliable, base load power underpinning energy
security domestically. Currently there is no other fuel, fossil or renewable, that can perform this
competitive role in the power generation mix. Coal accounts for 62 per cent of Australias total
electricity generation. Excluding generation used in remote and regional Australia and other non-grid-
sources, this figure rises to around 70 per cent. Coal is expected to remain the dominant source of
electricity generation looking to 2049-50 even though its share in the energy mix is expected to

See, for example, Productivity Commission (2005), Review of National Competition Policy Reforms, No 33, February;
Morgan Stanley, Expert Report 3 to the NSW Governments 2007 (Owen) Inquiry into Electricity Supply in NSW, p.49; and
Australian Energy Market Commission (2011) Discussion Paper on Strategic Priorities for Energy Market Development.
Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, Australian Energy Projections to 2049-50, November 2014, Canberra, pp 8-9.
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Box 1: Some history about the leadership role NSW and Victoria have played in the
development of electricity markets

New South Wales:

1863 display of electric arc light at Observatory Hill, Sydney to mark the marriage of the Prince of Wales.

The first recorded increase in labour productivity attributable to electricity occurred in 1879, at the Garden
Palace, Botanic Gardens where arc lighting was installed at the urging of Premier Sir Henry Parkes to
allow construction work to continue at night.

1888 Tamworth switched on electric street lighting and in 1889 Young commissioned electric street
lighting and sent power to nearby shops, businesses and homes the first time in the Empire.

1949 the Snowy Mountains Scheme commenced it continues to perform an integral role in serving peak
electricity requirements and in 1967 was nominated as one of the seven civil engineering wonders of the

The 1970s and 1980s saw large scale thermal coal fire power stations expansion and this continues to
underpin NSW electricity generation today. The supply certainty also helped sustain prolonged economic
growth in the 1990s to today

In 1900, NSW met all of Victorias coal needs for trains, town gas and electricity generation from the
NSW coal fields.


Victoria turned to brown coal from the Latrobe Valley after World War 1. It imported new technologies
from Germany that made it economic to consider using Latrobe Valley brown coal for power generation

1924 the first electricity from the Latrobe Valley brown coal fields was sent to Melbourne
- Victoria was developing a large manufacturing base and could not risk a lack of reliable electricity
supply due to an interruption of NSW coal imports
- The provision of affordable electricity was a foundation stone of Victorias manufacturing-led prosperity
in the 20 century

1956 the Morwell brown coal gasification plant opened using the German-imported Lurgi process to
supply coal-derived town gas to Melbourne via pipeline.
In each of the above milestones politicians, engineers and their advisers understood providing electricity was all
about raising living standards and enhancing economic opportunity.
Conversely narrowing energy choices, reducing reliability and raising prices (such as in South Australia) is
detrimental to economic growth and productivity.

Australia is the worlds largest exporter of coal. These exports have a strong positive impact on the
countrys economy. In addition, other countries benefit from the huge export potential of Australias
high quality thermal and metallurgical coals. This supply contributes to energy security in many
countries, which import coal from Australia.
The increased exports of coal have widened and deepened Australias economic integration with Asia.
Its exports of coal for use in both power generation and as a key input for iron, steel and cement
manufacture have helped underpin Asias ongoing industrialization. Australias coal has an important
role to play in securing the energy supply of long-established trading partners, including Japan, South
Korea and Taiwan, as well as China, India, SE Asia and other industrialising economies.
The coal industry has a long association with innovation and Australia is a centre for world leading
research covering a wide range of important areas. This includes all aspects of the production and
utilisation of coal including health, safety and the environment.
It would be unwise to foreclose on the possibility of new, low emissions solutions by locking away an
important reserve now. That would disqualify generations to come from using Australias abundant
coal resources in a way that suits the economy in the future.

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Indeed, research and technology will remain critical in sustaining future competitiveness in an industry
faced with technical, operational and human resource challenges as mines became deeper and where
quality deposits are still sought. (See Box 2).

Instead of thinking black and brown coals day has passed and focussing on the structural adjustment
pressures resulting regionally from closure of generators and industrial plant, the Inquiry needs to bear
in mind coals potential to support new industries and jobs in those same communities well into the
future. More widely across the across the entire economy access to affordable and reliable energy is
an essential underpinning of growth and our standard of living.

Box 2: Transformational change needs to be driven by technology

An ore-body does not develop itself. Resources only become technically viable to develop when innovation-
driven supply-side opportunity meets the right demand-side driven pricing. Moreover, they only become
economically viable in an environment that positively encourages investment and growth. For example:

Broken Hills zinc ores were largely worthless until flotation enabled separation of the ores from the

Mt Isa was thought a marginal (though large) zinc-lead orebody until the secrets of its giant adjoining
copper orebody were unlocked

Brown coal in Victoria had little value until technology and social developments combined to make it a
valuable resource

Cadias copper (NSW) and McArthur Rivers zinc (Northern Territory) were unwinnable for decades until
new technologies were developed.

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2.1 The need to ensure long-term energy security in the NEM

There appears to be limited understanding of the importance of coal as Australia's greatest energy
resource and the reality that it must be the cornerstone of any adequate, reliable and affordable
energy policy3 designed to meet climate change goals. That is not just the case for Australia but more
broadly for the world economy because:

From the perspective of energy security theres little scope at least at present for economies to
replace a significant fraction of their fossil fuel energy. 4
Most of the benefits of modern life, including transport, industry, heating and cooling, require a secure,
affordable and uninterrupted supply of energy.
Emerging renewable energy technologies offer other, complementary benefits. At present, renewables
contribute around 15 per cent to Australian electricity generation for public consumption, with 7 per
cent sourced from hydroelectricity. Wind energy has experienced strong growth over recent years and
now represents 4.9 per cent of total electricity generation. Emerging renewable energy technologies
include large-scale solar energy plants, geothermal, wave, and tidal generation technologies.
Renewables will soon make up more of our energy mix as a result of the Governments Renewable
Energy Target, which requires that a fixed quantum of Australias electricity (33,500 Gwh per year,
2030, or about 23 per cent on present forecasts) must come from renewable sources by 2020, and
this quantum is guaranteed to 2030. However, the remaining 75 per cent or more will continue to
come from fossil fuel sources, primarily coal.
2.2 There is limited understating of the nature of electricity

A more informed debate is urgently needed based on important facts:

Electricity is not like other commodities:
- It cannot be stored economically thus production must match consumption on a real-
time basis. This explains why gas currently produces 12 per cent of output but has 20 per
cent of total NEM registered capacity; hydro produces around 7 per cent of output but
comprises 16 per cent of capacity; wind produces 4.9 per cent of output and comprises
6.6 per cent of capacity; and coal produces 76% of output but comprises 54% of
- As electricity demand increases additional (more expensive) generating capacity
must be brought online. This results in a proportion of more expensive generating
options being utilised for far shorter periods of time than in other industries with less
expensive base load options doing the heavy lifting.
- It is an invisible and intangible commodity. Typically an aggregate electricity bill
reflects a broad range of energyusing activities or inputs. This makes it difficult for
consumers to learn which activities have the highest cost so they can make conscious,
economy-saving decisions regarding their energy use so as to get value for money.

Energy security is defined by the Energy Security Office as encompassing adequacy (the provision of sufficient energy to
support economic and social activity), reliability (the provision of energy with minimal disruptions to supply) and
competitiveness (the provision of energy at an affordable price). Factors affecting the supply of energy include issues such as
short-term disruptions to supplies as a result of human and natural hazards, or longer-term impacts resulting from inadequate
energy sector investment. There is also a growing recognition of the importance of building resilience against hazards and
balancing reliable energy supplies and environmental impacts. See https://www.environment.gov.au/energy/energy-security-
Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Keeping the home fires burning: Australias energy security, December 2011, p 16.
Australian Energy Regulator, State of the Energy Market 2015, pp 27-29.
Utilisation factors typically range between 80-95 per cent for lignite generators and 50-85 per cent for hard coal generators.
Gas plant and renewables operate at much lower utilisation levels. This aligns with the position of the plant in the merit order of
the NEM, which is determined by fuel cost.
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The continued use of coal is integral to national competitiveness, employment and

prosperity. Not only does coal underpin our standard of living, it also underpins the
competitiveness of Australian industry. In addition to being our second largest export earner,
coal provides cost-effective and reliable electricity that bestows a comparative advantage on
Australian businesses. Australian businesses account for over 70 per cent of total electricity
use in Australia. Residential demand is around 23 per cent. Furthermore, coal is especially
important to workers employed in energy-intensive industries, which often count electricity as
the largest component of their operating costs. Moving to a much more costly energy source
will be particularly damaging to these industries.
There is limited understanding of where electricity comes from and the roles that
renewables can and do play. For example:
- Owing to the intermittency of wind, the percentage of the installed wind generation
capacity that is actually available on average in Australia is only between 25% and
40%. According to the Australian Energy Market Operator:
- This means that while wind generation may be used effectively to meet regional energy
requirements (reducing the need for energy driven investments), it cannot be used to the
same extent when meeting capacity requirements. 8

- It is estimated that to generate sufficient power to meet Australias current demands it

would be necessary to construct an array of solar panels that would occupy over
4,000 square kilometres. As the Australian Strategic Policy Institute points out, that
corresponds to:
- an area greater than twice the Sydney urban area. The requirement can also be expressed
as 200m of panel per person, or about four times the average amount of roof area per person
in Australia today. 9

Demand for electricity is dominated by the industrial and commercial sectors, with very
different needs to household.
- Industry makes up about 50 per cent of Australian electricity demand, (with the
commercial sector and household sector accounting for 25 per cent each), according
to the Office of the Chief Economist. Further, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Cat
No. 4660) shows that mining accounts for 15 per cent of electricity consumption and 7
per cent of gas demand.
- As users, the importance of stable, reliable, and internationally cost competitive
electricity at scale to our sector cannot be underestimated. Large scale capital
equipment is expensive and is configured for 24 hour operations to ensure return on
investment and competitiveness. Technical requirements mean that in key processes,
disruption must be avoided to ensure there is no damage to equipment.
- Over 50 per cent of our national export income depends on baseload power.
The increased cost of the intermittency of supply is only now being understood.
- Based on a range of international studies, BAEconomics has estimated that when
wind penetration reaches 30 to 40 per cent, the additional economic cost of frequency
and load management as well as distribution costs is as high as $45 a Mw/h. At 100
per cent this system security cost rises to 200 Mw/h.
- Renewable technologies tend to produce disproportionately during times when the
electricity price is low. This means that despite increased volume of generation

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Energy in Australia, 2015, Table 4.4, p 46.
Australian Energy Market Operator (2011), Electricity Statement of Opportunities Executive Briefing, p 12.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Keeping the home fires burning: Australias energy security, December, p 17.
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output, returns are lower, undermining the technologys market value and investment
potential this is known as the self-cannibalisation effect.10
Simple solutions often seem attractive but bear further scrutiny so that the right
choices are made. Electricity markets are extremely complex technically and commercially. A
current key challenge is to try to make the integration of renewables and new technologies
work efficiently while not compromising the integrity of power system security, affordability and
The benefits of improving energy understanding in the community are likely to include:
Improving energy demand side efficiency by making more information accessible to
households and businesses on the nature of energy costs and the options available to
manage those costs.
Better appreciation of the trade-offs and relative costs involved in choosing different
fuels and technologies in the mix.
Improved understanding of the intersection of and potential conflicts between energy
security and climate change goals to help reduce the risks of adopting high cost solutions
that have costly, dysfunctional consequences.

B. S. Fisher, S. Schnittger, Implications of Australian Renewable Energy Mandates for the Electricity Sector, A report for the
Minerals Council of Australia, August, 2016. http://www.baeconomics.com.au/bae-assesses-power-systems-and-renewable-
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3.1 There are a mix of solutions

There are many solutions when it comes to meeting future electricity needs in a carbon constrained
world. Each low emissions technology option faces challenges and policy approaches need to be
realistic when considering base load electricity options:
Nuclear is currently ruled out as an option by both major political parties. Thus base load
options for Australia are limited to coal, gas and hydro.
Coal faces challenges with an aging overall fleet and hence lower efficiency performance
relative to many other developing and industrialised economies.
Gas faces challenges to its license to operate (coal seam gas) as well as an anticipated
escalating price with the move to export parity pricing while emissions performance on a
whole of cycle basis may be lower than modern coal generating options.
Hydroelectricity opportunities available in Australia are very limited (e.g. small hydro-
generators on streams, in town water supplies and other places where there are regular water

Low emission energy technologies also face their own unique challenges.
Carbon Capture and Storage needs to gain greater public acceptance and understanding.
Geothermal is yet to be proven and would require significant new transmission investments
and addressing environmental challenges like fracking. Although energy has been produced
from hot aquifers, deep rock geothermal is yet to be proven at commercial scale.
Wind faces more stringent approval requirements, scale and public acceptance issues as well
as the cost of additional investment in back-up generation to address intermittency concerns.
Consistent with solar it is weather dependent, at times highly variable and has a low inherent
utilisation factor.
Solar also faces intermittency, scale and cost challenges. Consistent with wind options.
Thus all existing and proposed energy technologies face challenges. Some are technical in nature,
some are commercial and many involve social and regulatory challenges.
Australias dependence on fossil fuels means that we have, in Professor Garnauts words, a strong
comparative advantage and a strong national interest in applying carbon capture and storage,
biofuels and biosequestration technologies.
The distinctive character of Australias abatement challenge heightens the importance of a balanced
debate on the energy choices available. All forms of energy highlight environmental and commercial
issues that must be considered and appropriately balanced in any fuel choice made. Thus it is
important to demand consistency in the arguments used for and against energy sources and work
against these evolving into a good versus bad argument, where renewables are perceived as
inherently good and fossil fuels as inherently bad Such an approach recognises the true long term
role of fossil fuels (gas and coal with carbon capture and storage) as a vital underpinning to support a
world that seeks to increase the amount of renewable but intermittent energy.
3.2 HELE coal-fired technology
The roadmap to a low emissions coal future is increasingly clear and is set out in Appendix 2:
Step 1: Improve power plant thermal efficiency while providing meaningful reductions in CO2

Ross Garnaut (2011), The Garnaut Review 2011: Australia in the global response to climate change, Final Report, 31 May,
p 122.
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Step 2: Adopt carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) technologies at required scale in
New technology coal plants, including ultra-supercritical coal plants, are achieving CO2 emissions
reductions of up to 40 to 50 per cent compared with the existing fleet of mostly subcritical plants.
An important relationship between plant efficiency and the need for CCS needs to be emphasised.
Compared to a subcritical plant with an efficiency of 35 per cent, an ultra-supercritical coal plant of the
same size with an efficiency of 45 per cent requires about 25 per cent less CO2 capture. Consequently,
for the same net electrical output, higher-efficiency plants require CCS units with smaller capacity;
hence, high efficiency plants have lower operating costs for CCS.
It follows that Step 1 involving deploying high-efficiency, low emissions (or HELE) technologies to
increase plant efficiency is important to reduce the eventual cost of CO2 abatement in Step 2.
In addition to the deployment of CCS, HELE technology is a prerequisite for achieving the goals of the
Paris Agreement. Roughly half of new coal-fired power plants being built employ HELE technology,
such as supercritical (SC), ultra-supercritical (USC) and integrated gasification combined cycles
(IGCC) technologies coupled with advanced emission controls.
HELE coal- and gas-fired power plants are operating around the world (see Boxes 3-5). In addition,
supercritical and ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants that equate to more than 32 times
Australias coal-fired generation capacity are planned or under construction across Asia.
Improving the global average efficiency rate of coalfired power plants from 33 per cent to 40 per cent
with HELE technology would reduce CO2 emissions by 2 gigatonnes a year the equivalent of Indias
current emissions.

Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, A cleaner future for power stations, Interdepartmental Task Group
Discussion Paper, 2010, p 5. Supercritical and ultra-supercritical plants operate at much higher temperatures than
conventional (subcritical) plants.
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The last decade of energy policy interventions has yielded a grim dividend for energy intensive
industries, especially the manufacturing sector. A decade ago Australia had the lowest cost energy in
the OECD. Now it has the 27th lowest. The consequences for energy intensive sectors have been
as inevitable as they were predictable (Chart 1)

Chart 1: Manufacturing Industry - electricity price and consumption trends





Manuf Elec Cons Index PPI Input - electricity

Source: DIIS, ABS

The 3 November 2016 announcement of the closure of the Hazelwood power station iand the recovery
issues in South Australia after its blackout are a reminder that Australia must work to maintain its long-
held competitive advantage in low cost electricity..
With a technology-neutral approach to Australias energy needs, the Latrobe Valley still has a big
The Latrobe Valley resource is well defined: 33 billion tonnes of lignite has been identified as
economically recoverable. This represents a massive resource able to meet Victorias, and indeed
Australias energy needs into the future while also providing for the potential development of the coal
resource for non-energy uses. Current estimates of Victorias recoverable lignite resources are
approximately 465 years of production.
Victorias brown coal contains low ash and sulphur and is readily mined at low cost. While the future
for lignite in Victoria will remain firmly rooted in electricity production for many decades, opportunities
exist and are underway to further develop Victorias massive endowment of lignite.
Lignite can be converted to a range of products including diesel, methanol, ammonia, urea, coal char,
dried coal and hydrogen to name a few applications in addition to electricity generation. Chars and
cokes can be derived from brown coal for pyrometallugical applications, to produce reductants and
carburising chemicals and can also be used as a general carbon source for other applications.
Calcium loaded char has applications in water & waste treatment and as an ion-exchange medium. In
the future, brown coal may even be refined into a purer form of carbon for use in production of a
myriad of carbon products including carbon fibres, carbon anodes, activated carbons, filter aids,

Stadler, A., Jutsen, J., Pears, A., & Smith, M. 2xEP: Australia's energy productivity opportunity, Draft Version 1.2. Sydney,
Australian Alliance to Save Energy, 2014, pp 35 and 36.
State Government of Victoria, Lignite/Brown Coal, 2015
A. F. Britt et al., Australia's Identified Mineral Resources 2014, Geoscience Australia, Canberra, p.4
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pigments, graphite lubricants and conductors and formed carbon materials. Carbon, in the form of a
lignite based fertiliser, as a soil conditioner is also highly prospective.
Gasification of coal can also produce synthesis gas (syngas, a mixture of predominantly carbon
monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen). This syngas can be used in the development of a range of
Technologies that develop these derivatives from coal will require value-adding onshore thus creating
new industrial hubs that would likely be developed in close proximity to the coal resource in the
regions and will require access to a highly skilled workforce and infrastructure development.
There are a number of national and international companies actively working on developing large-
scale activity based on coal resources under the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program. The
success of the lignite projects as well as the CarbonNETproject will play an important role in
demonstrating the future use of brown coal as both an energy and a non-energy resource.
As noted above, deploying new technologies, coal can deliver low cost, reliable energy with up to 40 to
50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. New super-efficient black coal plants are commercially
available and operating throughout the world. (Some examples are shown in Box 3). Super-efficient
brown coal plants are also planned or already delivering low cost, baseload energy around the world,
including in Germany, Poland, the United States and Thailand. With a bold vision NSW, Queensland
and Victoria and other jurisdictions can invest in Australias future by building ultra-supercritical black
and brown coal base load plants here too (Boxes 4 and 5).
Ignoring new coal generation will lead to higher prices and unreliable supply. Households and
industrial users throughout the NEM will be affected and future investment plans put at risk. Modelling
conducted for the Victorian Government already shows that the Hazelwood closure will mean Victorian
households can expect an annual price increase of up to $100 with larger increases for small
businesses. In addition, Australia will be wasting the talent of skills of thousands of workers from the
Latrobe Valley as well as the rich resource that lies beneath it.

State Government of Victoria, Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program
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Box 3: HELE technologies are in operation globally

High efficiency, low emission or HELE technologies (the SC and USC Plants), which are illustrated
here and are commercially available throughout the world. These plants include technologies to
address SOx, NOx and particulates. Japans Isogo and Chinas Waigaoqiao No 3 are world leaders in
dealing with these emissions; their effectiveness means they do not contribute to local airborne

Box 4: Australia can build USC black coal plants

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Box 5: USC units also use brown coal

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The coal industry has made the development and demonstration of low emissions coal technologies
the central focus of its approach to dealing with climate change. For many years the industry has been
proactive in addressing environmental issues including greenhouse gas emissions in the extraction
and use of coal.
In order to drive this demonstration program the black coal industry established the COAL21 Fund in
2006. The Fund is a voluntary levy on coal production and has so far committed over $300 million in
Australia (see Box 6). The Commonwealth and State governments are also providing substantial
funding to the demonstration program.
These contributions represent a cooperative approach with industry to develop and demonstrate low
emissions coal technologies. The approach covers R&D, pilot plants, demonstration projects and
commercial scale projects. Industry is actively engaged on the projects listed in Table B. Those
projects are among a number of major carbon capture and storage technology ventures currently at
various stages of development in Australia.
Other Australian initiatives include the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas
Technologies (CO2CRC), Geoscience Australias National CO2 Infrastructure Plan, CSIROs Low
Emission Coal Technology R&D program, CSIROs National Geosequestration Laboratory, Brown
Coal Innovation Australia, Coal Innovation NSW and the Global CCS Institute. Australia has also led
the world in developing legal and regulatory frameworks for the permanent underground storage of
The MCA recognises that meeting Australias emissions reduction targets will require a fundamental
and unprecedented transformation of our energy sector. With $10 billion at its disposal, the Clean
Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has the potential to play a role in delivering these solutions and
thereby contribute to the broader objectives of the Governments Clean Energy Future Plan. The
success of the CEFC in realising this potential will be enhanced only if it has the flexibility to invest in
all low emission technologies, including CCS and Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage
The decision to exclude CCS from accessing the CEFC is inconsistent with the potential of CCS to
contribute to Australias domestic abatement efforts and potentially contrary to Australias strategic and
economic interests as the worlds largest exporter of coal and a major exporter of liquefied natural gas
Given the enormous potential of CCS in Australia, it is concerning that it has received considerably
less funding support than other low emission technologies. Renewable technologies have access to
the multi-billion dollar funding managed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as well as a
(conservatively) estimated $20 billion in support provided by the mandatory Renewable Energy Target.
In contrast, CCS is receiving less than $1 billion although it is forecast to deliver a potential 30 per cent
of the electricity mix by 2049-50. The exclusion of CCS from the CEFC exacerbates the current
funding imbalance and handicaps the development of a key low emission solution.

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Box 6: The COAL21 Fund

Table B: COAL21 project and related funding commitments, 31 October 2016 (Am)
COAL21 Funding Funding
Project (a)
Commitment other
ZeroGen IGCC with CCS Stage 1 Feasibility Study and subsequent Large
41.4 140.9
Scale Pre-Feasibility Study
Wandoan IGCC with CCS Pre-feasibility study 15.5 20.2
Callide Oxyfuel Project Construction and Operation 76.9 168.0
Qld Carbon Geostorage Initiative Scoping and Delivery 10.7 7.7
CTSCo 15.2 8.8
New South Wales
Delta PCC Project Scoping and Delivery 0.7 1.3
NSW Storage 13.3 28.1
Australian National Low Emissions Coal R&D 75.0 75.0
CO2CRC and Otway Project Delivery (c) 12.5 86.3
Fugitive Methane Abatement 29.9 39.0
Business case studies and other expenses 11.5 0
TOTAL 302.6 555.3
Note: The above commitments were as at 31 October 2016 and may change from time to time.

MCA Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee 15

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Given the challenges to the economics of future electricity generation, CCS offers a cost-competitive
option for Australia to meet electricity demand growth in an environmentally sustainable way while
continuing to utilise Australias abundant fossil fuel reserves.

Chart 1: CCUS is cost competitive today in many markets

Source: Dr Julio Friedmann, CCUS Viability: Technology, Policy, and Finance post Paris, Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory, California, presentation Canberra, 18 October 2016.

As illustrated in Chart 1 CCS is among the lowest cost portfolio options. Retrofit CCS is already cost
competitive with some of the other low emissions options that are being deployed now. Australian
LCOE studies have usually assumed new build with CCS. Nevertheless, Dr Friedmann suggests
retrofit of CCS may be viable and cheaper than new build options for some Australian power stations,
with CO2 avoided costs lower than some currently deployed renewable technologies.
Dr Friedmann reported that costs of retrofit at Petra Nova in the USA indicate a cost of US $100 a ton
of CO2 avoided, with the next retrofit expected to come in at US$70 a ton and with version 4-5 coming
in at an expected US $50 a ton.

MCA Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee 16

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What are low emissions coal technologies?

The production and use of fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions but fortunately the
technology exists to address these.
High efficiency, low emissions (HELE) power generation technologies produce more energy
from a given amount of coal or gas input than conventional power generation while reducing
CO2 emissions by up to 40 to 50 per cent
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be integrated into HELE power, gas processing, steel,
cement and other industrial plants to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent
Modelling by the International Energy Agency and International Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) shows that without CCS, meeting climate goals will be significantly more expensive.
Accordingly, investment in both HELE and CCS technologies is paramount to meet emissions
reduction goals cost-effectively.
Low emissions coal technologies (see http://www.minerals.org.au/resources/coal21/about_coal21)
refer to technologies designed to enhance the environmental performance of coal and reduce fugitive
emissions associated with coal mining. These technologies are delivering significant reductions in
greenhouse gas emissions and reducing waste.
What are the benefits to Australia of investing in HELE and CCS?
By advancing low emission fossil fuel technologies Australia can:
Support the commercial viability of low emissions technologies worldwide
Contribute to global development of safe and reliable CCS
Continue to derive economic benefit from developing our vast energy resources in a carbon-
constrained world
Promote a practical and effective means of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A. Low emissions coal technologies used in power generation CO2 capture technologies
(pre-combustion and post combustion) and CO2 storage technologies.
Post Combustion Capture (PCC) Technology can be applied to new plant or as retrofit technology
for coal fired or natural gas power plants that can dramatically reduce CO2 emissions by as much as
90% through the process of removing CO2 from flue gases:
Flue gases leaving a power plant are first cooled and then, using solvent separation, the CO2
is captured
The CO2 is then removed from the absorbing solution allowing the absorbent to be recycled
and reused
Alternatively capture can be achieved using cryogenic or membrane separation
The captured CO2 is compressed and cooled to form a liquid that can be permanently stored
using geosequestration.
This technology is at a pilot and demonstration stage of development. Current pilot projects in
Australia include the Hazelwood Project (VIC) and the Loy Yang Project (VIC).
Oxyfuel Combustion Technology can be applied to new plant or as retrofit technology to existing
plant. While conventional power plant boilers burn pulverised coal in air (comprising oxygen, nitrogen
and other gases) the oxyfuel process replaces air with a mix of oxygen and recirculated gases from
the boiler, creating a highly concentrated stream of CO2. The CO2 can then be liquefied and
permanently stored using geosequestration.

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This technology is at early commercial stage of development. The key project in Australia
demonstrating this technology is the Callide Oxyfuel Project (QLD).
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Technology is applied to a new plant. In the IGCC
process, coal is converted into a synthetic gas (syngas), which is cooled and cleaned to remove
particulates and sulphur compounds and passed through a shift reactor (to convert more of the
syngas to hydrogen and CO2). The CO2 is then separated and the hydrogen is burned in a combined
cycle gas turbine unit. Coal gasification technology can also be adapted for coal to liquids production.
The main components are a coal gasification facility, an air separation unit (oxygen instead of air is
typically used in the gasification process), a gas cleaning facility, syngas shift reactor, CO2 separator
and a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant. As concentrated CO2 is one of the by-
products of the gasification process this technology is highly suited to carbon capture and storage.
This technology integrated with carbon capture and storage is currently at the pilot and demonstration
stage of development.
Geological Storage
The carbon capture technology options outlined above can be combined with geological storage to
provide a full Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) system. While many components of the techniques
and technologies are well-established in other industrial applications, their adaptation to power
generation systems is currently at the demonstration stage. The type of capture technology that is
most suitable will depend on site specific factors such as fuel type and ambient conditions.
Carbon dioxide can then be transported using high pressure pipelines a technique that has already
been proven for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects since the 1980s. It could also be
transported in tankers similar to those used to transport LPG. Transportation costs will vary greatly
depending on volume, distance, geography and method. Captured CO2 has the potential to be stored
in a variety of onshore and offshore geological sites including active and depleted oil and gas reserves
and saline aquifers.
B. Low emissions coal technologies used in industrial activities
The challenge for CCS is not to prove the feasibility of its constituent technologies but to deploy
integrated large-scale projects at a cost that is commercially competitive. While the same commercial
challenge faces all low emissions technologies, CCS has the advantage of being applicable to any
large source of CO2 emissions. CCS can be applied to power generation (from coal, gas, diesel, fuel
oil or biomass), production of industrial goods (such as iron and steel, cement and fertiliser), coal to-
liquids processes, oil refining and natural gas processing. CCS also has the advantage of being
independent of the weather.
The technology is being applied at the Abu Dhabi Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage Project
through CO2 capture from Direct Reduction Iron facility.
C. Low emissions coal technologies used to reduce fugitive emissions
Methane in air is explosive in concentrations between 5% and 15% so it is imperative that methane
levels in underground mines are kept well below this level (eg less than 1%). Technologies used for
the abatement of these emissions cover two broad areas. The first area covers technologies to deal
with rich methane gas sources from underground mines essentially related to the pre-draining of
underground coal mines ahead of actual mining. There are existing commercial technologies for the
abatement of this methane. The second area covers technologies to deal with ventilation air methane
from underground mines residual gas after pre-drainage is kept below the safety limit by diluting it
with a sufficient volume of ventilation air. This safety measure leads to very large volumes of
ventilation air with extremely low methane content.

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Regenerative Thermal Oxidation technologies while there are commercially available

technologies for methane-rich drainage gas, the very lean and highly variable mine ventilation air is far
more challenging. Regenerative Thermal Oxidation (RTO) technology can be used for either methane
destruction or, if the methane concentration is high enough, for power generation.
Given the extremely low methane content (eg <1%) there are only a few available technologies for
abatement of methane in mine ventilation air. The MEGTEC VOCSIDIZER and Biothermicas
VAMOX technology have both been installed at a limited number of coal mine operations. In
assessing the viability of these technologies for ventilation air methane reduction individual mines will
have to make their own assessment of technical, environmental, land access and economic feasibility.
Other technologies being explored are:
Corkys Sustainable Energy Pty Ltd Ventilation Air Methane Regenerative AfterBurner
(VAM-RABTM). Based on traditional coke battery design principles it utilises the principles of
a thermal oxidiser
Kawasaki Heavy Industries proposed VAM abatement system (a combination of the catalytic
combustion gas turbine and catalytic oxidizer).
Currently there are no available high temperature technologies that meet regulatory requirements to
mitigate the safety risks with full scale VAM abatement. There are also operational issues associated
with full scale application of the technologies. The main one involves safety. Most of the safety risk
issues with facility or process upscaling relate to the potential for an unplanned event in the
underground mine introducing an explosive mixture of VAM to a guaranteed ignition source operating
in excess of 1000 C. As VAM in a ventilation system travels at significant speeds (eg at 20m/sec)
there is very little time to detect and react to this unplanned situation. This issue is being assessed
through a number of current ACALET projects.
Technologies for abating open cut fugitive emissions are yet to emerge. Pre drainage in advance
of mining may be applicable in some circumstances depending on site specific conditions.

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Step 1: Improving power plant thermal efficiency while providing meaningful reductions in CO2
The average thermal efficiency of coal-fuelled power plants is 33 per cent, which is substantially below
the state-of-the-art rate of 42 per cent (Chart A1). This efficiency varies across the major coal using
countries from under 30 per cent to 45 per cent. Such differences arise due to the age of the plant,
coal quality and impurity profiles (e.g. ash, sulphur and moisture content and physical and chemical
rank properties), operating conditions, maintenance practices and application of new and improved
Chart A1: Increased thermodynamic efficiency reduces the amount of CO2 generated per unit
of plant output

Source: IEA Insights Series (2013), 21st Century coal: advanced technology and global energy solutions, report for the Coal
Industry Advisory Board, p 20; based on information from RWE AG.
Note: The figure shows CO2 reductions at coal-fuelled stream-electric power plants from higher efficiency / CCS technologies
(hard coal, 26 GJ/kg HHV, North Sea cooling water).

As illustrated in Chart A1, improvements in thermal efficiency following implementation of technology

advances reduce CO2 emissions while improving generation efficiency. This means that substantial
CO2 savings can be made by renovating old plants or replacing them by more efficient ones. In fact,
increasing the efficiency of coal-fired power plants by 1 per cent reduces CO2 emissions by between 2
and 3 per cent.
The IEA estimates that advanced coal technologies, including supercritical (SC), ultrasupercritical
(USC) and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants, could deliver 7 per cent of the
necessary CO2 emissions cuts in the power sector through to 2050. This is just as much as the
estimated contribution of solar photovoltaics (PV) and slightly less than the potential contribution of
wind turbines. CCS could deliver almost one third of the entire mitigation effort needed in the power
As illustrated by Chart A2, some advanced coal power technologies are relatively mature, but many
are still in the development phase. Technologies are particularly vulnerable during this period. For
example, first-of-a-kind project cost estimates often increase over time as more information is

World Coal Association, Coal Matters 3: coal and electricity generation, 2012, p 2.
MCA Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee 20
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Submission 29 - Attachment 1

assembled about the scale-up and application challenges. To maintain momentum during this critical
phase, it is essential that there is a clear pathway to future cost reduction.
Chart A2: Importance of early deployment of advanced coal technologies

Source: IEA Insights Series (2013), 21st Century coal: advanced technology and global energy solutions, report for the Coal
Industry Advisory Board, p 22; based on data from the Electric Power Research Institute.
List of acronyms: A-USC PC is advanced ultra-supercritical pulverised coal; USC PC is ultra-supercritical pulverised coal; SC
PC is supercritical pulverised coal; EOR is enhanced oil recovery aimed at boosting oil recovery above an average of about 40
per cent by injecting CO2.

Step 2: Advancing CCS technologies

According to the IEA, current state-of-the-art technology operating under ultra-supercritical steam
conditions can achieve net efficiencies of up to 46 per cent. The IEA Clean Coal Centre has estimated
that new HELE coal technology built since 2005 in 10 Asian countries is already reducing CO2
emissions by an estimated 479 million tonnes a year. In the 10 Asian countries studied an estimated
additional 1.1 billion tonnes of CO2 abatement annually will result from the planned deployment of
HELE rather than subcritical technology in electricity generation.
In the IEAs core New Policies Scenario, the average efficiency of coal-fired generation worldwide
improves materially as old plants, based on subcritical technology, are retired and increasingly
replaced by HELE technologies. A major portion of total emission savings in the IEAs core scenario
come from efficiency improvements across all sectors in the global economy. CCS remains nascent in
this scenario. However:

As deployment picks up pace, learning-by-doing presents an opportunity for substantial cost reductions
over the period to 2040, though deployment will also critically depend on improved information becoming
available about CO2 storage opportunities.

The role of CCS becomes more critical under other scenarios for greater emissions reductions such
as the IEAs 450 Scenario, which assumes new policy actions consistent with a 50 per cent chance of
limiting the long-term average increase in global temperature to 2C. The 2C target puts into sharp
focus the need to increase the adoption of technologies such as CCS rapidly and at scale and
estimates that CCS could reduce the cost of decarbonising the power sector by $1 trillion between
now and 2035.

IEA Clean Coal Centre, HELE perspectives for selected countries, London, September 2015. The 10 Asian countries are
Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2015, p 44.
International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2013, pp. 37, 141, 182.
MCA Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee 21