Ambre Energy has released an Initial Advice Statement(IAS) for their proposed Felton coal-to-liquids & CO2 project. This coincides with the publication by the EPA of the draft Terms of Reference for the so-called "Felton Clean Coal Demonstration Project". For full details, including the opportunity to comment, go to www.epa.qld.gov.au/search?term=felton
This IAS is the 3rd from Ambre in 12 months, and is remarkable for its lack of detail. The 1st IAS (the Initial IAS), dated Feb 2008, ran to 33 pages. The 2nd, dated July 2008, has 45 pages, but the 3rd, dated December 2008, has only 16 pages.
Perhaps we should look elsewhere for the finer details. How about these snippets from www.coal.erisk.net (Nov 2008) -
Ambre Energy coal gasification converts 95pc of coals carbon into synthetic gas (CO + H2); but where to put the CO2?
Felton Locals were more than happy with the wider economic benefits - despite minor downsides - Jason Russell, Exploration Manager, Ambre Energy, told Gas Week.(What planet does he live on???) Ambre Energy - which planned to list in 2009 - would make money with its planned new coal mine but it would also make dust, huge piles of coal-ash and CO2; and would crack underground water systems. Ambre planned to sell purified CO2, (as does Wesfarmers in Western Australia, from its ammonia plant). Tree-planting on ash piles: The idea was it would plant trees and keep dust down by water spraying supplemented with dust suppressant agents.
Ambre Energy’s giant coal mine plan: ship CO2 1200 kilometers to Moomba; if price of carbon gets high enough
Ambre Energy's planned giant coal mine generation were said to create units one-half to one-third of CO2 from a conventional coal fired power station. Typical sub-critical coal fired power stations generate carbon dioxide at approximately 1000kgCO2/MWh, it said. However the cost of shipping carbon to Moomba was over $20/ tonne so it was cheaper to pay the carbon permit price, Jason Russell, Exploration Manager, Ambre Energy told Gas Week.
Ambre Energy’s giant Queensland coal mine will use or destroy ground water resources in the coal seam zone of Walloon coal measure, and Hodgson Creek.
Ambre Energy’s plans for a gigantic coal mine, fuel plant and CO2 dump near Toowoomba, Queensland was frank in its report of the impact of water resources; ‘The water from these resources (is) fully allocated to the farming community, discussions will be held with DNRW as to the process required to access these resources'. Will damage groundwater: 'Initially mining will intersect ground water resources in the Walloon coal measure and although unlikely, may intersect groundwater in the alluvials of Hodgson Creek'.
Or how about this from Ambre Energy's submission to the Federal Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper -
Ironically, although coal gasification is seen as our best chance of reducing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2010 has the potential to impact adversely on the development of this technology in Australia for at least 2 reasons:
1. The Scheme adds to the already high commercial risks associated with these types of projects. The cost of purchasing carbon pollution permits comes on top of the high capital costs of coal gasification plants and the difficulty of attracting project finance because of the relative novelty of the technology.
2. While the technology for capturing pure CO2 from syngas is well advanced, the technology associated with geosequestration of CO2 requires further development. There is much confidence about the ultimate prospects for low-cost commercial geosequestration, but during this "gap", coal gasification plants will have no option but to purchase carbon pollution permits.
Mitigating the Negative Impacts of the Scheme
The simplest way to mitigate the negative impacts of the Scheme on proposed coal gasification projects would be to grant such projects an initial ‘holiday’ of a specified period of years during which time carbon pollution permits would be provided at no cost for all or most of the CO2 emissions generated by the project. This would have the effect of reducing some of the financial risks associated with the project.
Alternatively, financial assistance could be offered in other forms, for example, by way of government loans or loan guarantees for qualifying projects (compare the US Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Scheme).
Unless appropriate assistance is offered to these projects, there is a very strong possibility that coal gasification technology will not be established in Australia by commercial operators for many years, if ever.
So, it's not clean after all, and they want taxpayers to pay for their pollution.
Here's a suggestion - until geosequestration of CO2 is proven to work practically & economically, leave the coal in the ground and give Govt assistance to renewable energy, which is already proven, does not trash our environment, coexists easily with top quality food production, and would provide lots of jobs.