By Harleigh Hobbs
January 8, 2018 - The Australian minerals industry welcomes strong support from Australians for new-generation coal power through high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired generation, according to a news release from the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).
Polling of 1300 Australians aged 18 and over, conducted during October and November 2017 by JWS Research, found 68% of Australians supported investment in new-generation high technology coal-fired power plants.
The research was conducted following an extensive multi-media campaign by the Australian minerals industry to show Australians the advantages of new-generation coal-fired power plants.
The goal of Australia’s energy and climate policy framework should be to deliver reliable energy at least cost while meeting the nation’s emissions reduction objectives, noted the MCA. Achieving this goal means applying a technology-neutral approach to all energy sources while avoiding subsidies, quotas or other non-market-oriented interventions.
The MCA indicated that, on all three deliverables of cost, reliability and emissions, there are good reasons why HELE coal power should be part of the mix of energy technologies competing to replace retiring baseload power.
HELE plants are used overseas to reduce the cost of power while bringing down emissions. They operate at higher temperatures and air pressure to more rapidly convert water to steam – improving efficiency, saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40%.
With Australia moving from having some of the lowest to some of the highest energy prices in the developed world over the last decade, HELE remains the cheapest form of dispatchable electricity in Australia with the benefit of much lower emissions than older coal technology.
An independent study commissioned by the COAL 21 Fund and the Minerals Council of Australia from Solstice Development Services and GHD in 2017 showed HELE black coal was the lowest-cost generation option at AUS$40 -78.MWh, compared to gas-powered electricity at AUS$69 – 115/MWh and wind power at AUS$64 – 115/MWh.
HELE coal-fired generators emit 20 – 25% less CO2 than the average of existing power plants and up to 40% less than the oldest technology in place.