Is building new HELE coal-fired powerstation a priority?
THE construction of a new high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power station in North Queensland hasn't featured as an option in the Federal Government's newly released Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper.
Listing Australia's energy priorities as it reduces carbon emissions over the next 30 years, the draft discussion paper considered 140 low emissions technologies including hydrogen, renewables, biofuels and carbon capture and storage.
Conspicuously absent from the 74 page document was mention of HELE technology - the coal burning method which underpins the LNP's new power station plan.
Central Queensland's National Party politicians including Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd fought hard to secure $4 million to support Shine Energy's feasibility study on a 1GW HELE plant at Collinsville. When questioned about the omission by the ABC yesterday, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said it was mentioned as "one of the technologies" considered to increase the efficiency of existing thermal generators and reduce emissions.
The report said these technologies merited consideration "especially given the high utilisation and long lifespans of these types of facilities; a small increase in efficiency can result in a substantial reduction in emissions over many years".
The technology wasn't mentioned in the context of building a new power station.
Mr Taylor said the Technology Investment Roadmap recognised the need for low cost reliable energy to support industries.
"Our approach is technology not taxes. This means reducing emissions, not jobs or the economy. We will support technologies that support jobs growth," Mr Taylor said.
Senator Canavan noted the discussion paper was a draft document which would need some work.
"I don't think it gives enough prominence to coal technologies," he said.
"I have given the Minister that feedback and I will wait for the final version with interest."
"High efficiency, low emission technologies are proven performers that lower emissions and reduce power prices."
He said the government remained committed to the Collinsville HELE option which was "progressing well".
Shine and the department are understood to be in the final stages of assessing the grant application.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the Roadmap was about "getting more horses into the race, not shutting some out for ideological reasons".
"Technologies that increase the efficiency of coal - whether that's carbon capture or others - are technologies we want to support."
Ms Landry said the list of priority technologies included "technologies that increase the efficiency of the existing thermal generation fleet", which obviously included High Efficiency Low Emissions coal technology.
She reaffirmed her government's support for coal as a source of reliable, baseload power.
"The proof of our support is in the pudding - we've already provided support for Shine Energy's new coal fired power station at Collinsville," she said.
"The Government has been working closely with Shine Energy and we expect the feasibility study will commence very soon."
Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd said he'd always been a big supporter of coal and HELE coal fired power stations for the jobs it provided and the low cost energy it produce.
"I believe our energy mix should include coal, nuclear and renewables," he said.
"Coal is Australia's biggest export and is driving a multi-billion dollar economy.
"In my opinion I think we should more seriously consider the advantages of Nuclear Energy. Nuclear power is one of the cleanest forms of energy as it doesn't require fossil fuels."
Mr Taylor said his government was supporting new electricity generation projects in North and Central Queensland that would drive down power prices, improve reliability and support a stronger economy.
He said industries like aluminium smelting, refining, cement, sugar and copper processing, relied on low cost, reliable energy to employ tens of thousands of Queenslanders.
"That means ensuring a reliable, balanced mix of generation in the system, which will include coal, gas and a growing share of renewables," Mr Taylor said.
At the last election the Liberal National Government committed $10 million to address supply and affordability issues for energy-intensive and trade-exposed customers in North and Central Queensland.