Fossil fuels will continue to make an indispensable contribution to the world’s energy, plastics, chemicals, steel, cement, glass, aluminium and fertiliser industries and to a wide range of industrial products, including textiles, paints and dyes.
Accordingly, responsible development of our energy resources will continue to provide enormous benefits in terms of wealth creation for Australia, and will do so for generations to come.
The International Energy Agency projects that Australia could enjoy coal and natural gas export revenues of more than $2 trillion through to 2035.
The use of fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions are not mutually exclusive. Over the past decade, considerable effort has been directed to developing low emission fossil fuel technologies here and overseas. As a contribution to this activity, the Australian black coal industry is partnering with governments and other private sector contributors to invest in the demonstration of low emissions coal technology solutions through its unique COAL21 Fund.
What is COAL21?
The COAL21 Fund is based on a voluntary levy on coal production. It complements and extends Australia’s black coal producers’ individual contributions to the research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of low emissions technologies as well as activities through the black coal industry’s R&D program, ACARP.
So far, the COAL21 Fund has committed more than AUD300 million to demonstration projects. The project portfolio covers:
- CO2 capture
- Geological storage and
- Methane emissions abatement at operating underground coal mines.
The Fund is intended to help secure the future value of Australia’s black coal resources – which are owned by Australian states/territories – in a carbon-constrained economy and help maintain the coal industry’s social license to operate.
Background to the COAL21 Fund
In 2003, the Australian coal industry brought together representatives from the coal and electricity industries, unions, federal and state governments and the research community to form the COAL21 partnership with a steering committee under the independent chairmanship of Mr Tim Besley, AC. This partnership recognised that to take effective action we needed a coordinated approach across industry, governments and the research community.
The first significant output was the COAL21 National Action Plan launched in 2004 by the then Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Ian Macfarlane.
The plan explored all the options for reducing emissions. But the focus was on breakthrough technologies with the potential to deliver major reductions in emissions associated with coal utilisation in power generation – the principal source of world greenhouse gas emissions associated with coal. The partnership identified carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) as most important for achieving significant reductions in this area and prioritised its development to make it more commercially viable.
The COAL21 Action Plan aimed to accelerate the demonstration and deployment of low emissions coal technologies (particularly CCS) that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-based electricity generation.
With the plan in place, in March 2006 the industry established the COAL21 Fund to help finance the pre-commercial demonstration work needed for the key technologies.
The COAL21 Fund is based on a voluntary levy on coal production to support the pre-commercial demonstration of low emissions coal technologies (mainly carbon capture and geological storage). It aims to supplement the money provided by the Australian and state governments for low emissions fossil fuel research, development and demonstration.
The industry has established ACA Low Emissions Technologies Ltd (ACALET) to operate the COAL21 Fund and manages its relationship with its investment projects.
In 2013 a comprehensive review of the COAL21 Fund strategic objectives was conducted. This took account of changes in the status of technology development and the economic and policy drivers for implementing CCS. It also took into account the current difficult economic conditions faced by all stakeholders including governments.
Recognising that capture technologies are being developed by major global equipment suppliers, with some already being offered on commercial terms, the focus for the COAL21 Fund has moved to one of adapting overseas technology developments to Australian conditions rather than developing (and therefore reinventing) new technology. World-leading R&D work is also being undertaken to enhance the uptake of CCS technologies at large scale.
The Australian black coal industry is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal mines and coal use. More than A$300 million has been committed to a range of projects in Queensland, New South Wales and nationally. The coal industry is actively engaged on the projects listed in the table below.
|PROJECT NAME||PROJECT SUMMARY||PROJECT STATUS||GOVERNMENT/ INDUSTRY CO-FUNDING COMMITMENT||COAL21 PROJECT FUNDING COMMITMENTS|
|Callide Oxyfuel Project||Largest demonstration of oxy-fuel technology in the world||Completed||$63m Federal
|QLD Storage Assessment (CGI)||Collect geological data in known Qld basins to identify most prospective areas to search for commercial scale geological storage||Ongoing||$20m Federal
|Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation (CTSCo) Pty Ltd||Pre-Feasibility to examine potential for commercial scale geological storage in Qld||Completed||$7.59m Federal||$8.91m|
|Wandoan - Stanwell||Pre-Feasibility studies for CO2 capture options in Qld, in conjunction with the CTSCo project above||Completed||$8m Federal
|CTSCo Surat Basin Integrated CCS project - Feasibility Study||Demonstration to safely and securely sequester CO2 into the precipice sandstone of the Surat Basin, Queensland||Ongoing||Nil||$15m|
|ZeroGen IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) with CCS||Feasibility study for a large scale power station using IGCC technology, which has longer term potential for capturing CO2, and associated geological storage in Qld||Completed||$38.5m Federal
|NEW SOUTH WALES|
|Delta PCC Project at Vales Point Power Station||Preliminary design of a 100,000tpa PCC plant for Vales Point power station in NSW and characterisation of a geological storage site.||Complete||$0.65m Federal
|NSW Storage Assessment||Collect basic geological data in known NSW basins to identify most prospective areas to search for commercial scale geological storage||Ongoing||$10m Federal
|ANLEC Research Ltd||Conduct R&D to support CCS demonstration projects and test concepts for longer term improvements, Victoria||Ongoing||$75m Federal||$75m|
|CO2CRC & Otway Project||Conduct geological storage research in a depleted gas field in the Otway region, Victoria||Ongoing||$25m Federal
|Ventilation Air Methane Abatement Project||Identify the safety risks associated with deploying commercial technology for the abatement of methane in ventilation air from underground coal mines||Completed||Nil||$0.7m|
|Ventilation Air Methane Abatement – four projects||A series of projects that will:
|Micronised Refined Coal Direct Injected Carbon Engine||Initial R&D to gather the data required to develop an engine development program to enable running on Micronised Refined Coal (finely ground coal in a water slurry)||Ongoing||$7.11m||$1.89m|
|Total Project Funding Agreements||$301m|
Please note: The above commitments were as at 31 October 2015 and may change from time to time.
The COAL21 projects are among a number of major carbon capture and storage technology ventures currently at various stages of development in Australia and indicated on the map below. These projects complement activities under way internationally.
Some of these projects involve pure research, others are focussed on carbon capture, others on storage and some on all aspects of the CCS process. Not all of the projects relate to coal emissions, as CCS technology has application for all emissions from the use of fossil fuels, including gas and oil.
Image courtesy of the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies, http://www.co2crc.com.au