PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has echoed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s views that fossil fuels will remain an integral part of Australia’s energy mix.
“For the foreseeable future, coal is the foundation of our prosperity,” Prime Minister Abbott said in response to questions earlier this week.
“Coal is the foundation of the way we live because you can't have a modern lifestyle without energy. You can't have a modern economy without energy and for now and for the foreseeable future, the foundation of Australia's energy needs will be coal.”
Abbott noted that if a serious effort was to be made in raising living standards in less developed countries, and maintaining or improving living standards in Australia, “making the best use of coal” had to be seriously considered.
The MCA noted this week that while renewable energy would contribute to the world’s growing demand for energy, the total demand could not be met without the use of fossil fuels.
“There is no escape from extreme poverty without access to cheap energy and coal is the leading option. In the world’s fastest growing energy market – Asia - the cost of generating electricity from coal is half the cost of gas, and even more affordable than other alternatives,” MCA CEO Brendan Pearson said.
However, he pointed out that new supercritical coal technologies were rapidly reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired power generation, and that new generation plants were delivering coal-fired generation at nearly half the CO2 emissions of the global average.
These new plants generated 743 g/kWh of CO2, compared with global average of 1 300 g/kWh of CO2, and testing was under way on plants that will reduce this to 288 g/kWh of CO2.
Pearson said that strong progress was also being made in expanding carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects around the world.
“With Boundary Dam now in operation in Canada, there are 13 large-scale CCS projects operating globally, and an additional nine under construction, representing a 50% increase since 2011. In Australia, CCS projects have successfully sequestered 65 000 t of CO2 in a depleted gas field in Victoria’s Otway basin and captured CO2 at a coal-fired power plant at Callide in Queensland’s Bowen basin.”
Pearson said that contrary to “hysterical” claims by the Australian Greens, a strong future for coal and lower CO2 emissions were not mutually exclusive.