Hazelwood Coal Plant. Simpsons fan 66 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Proponents are celebrating Kawasaki Heavy Industry’s planned construction of a coal to hydrogen plant in Victoria, which is intended to prove the viability of the clean hydrogen supply chain. Just one thing is missing from the proposed clean energy plant; the part where they capture all the CO2 emitted by burning vast quantities of low grade coal to produce the “clean hydrogen”.
Australia ‘hydrogen road’ to Japan set to cut emissions
A consortium’s $500m project will produce hydrogen from brown coal in one of the world’s first zero-emission energy supply chains.
Jamie Smyth and Robin Harding
Dec 1, 2020 – 3.14pm
A Japanese-Australian consortium is set to begin producing hydrogen from brown coal in a $500 million pilot project seen by its architects as the first step in creating one of the world’s first zero-emission energy supply chains.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, J-Power and Shell Japan have joined Australia’s AGL Energy and several international partners to produce, liquefy and ship hydrogen to Japan. They intend to burn some of the 5 billion tonnes of lignite in the valley, enough to power Victoria for more than 500 years, to produce hydrogen.
Eventually, they intend to capture the carbon generated by the process and inject it into under-sea basins in the nearby Bass Strait. For now, however, their goal is to prove the viability of the supply chain and the emissions will continue to be released into the atmosphere.
Yet, the scepticism remains. Tesla co-founder Elon Musk has dismissed hydrogen fuel cells as “mind-bogglingly stupid”, saying it is inefficient to use them in a car compared with charging a lithium-ion battery directly from a solar panel. Other critics ask whether producing hydrogen from fossil fuels can ever be made cost-effective or clean given that the industry has so far failed to prove the commercial case for carbon capture and storage.
Environmental groups have also raised objections to the Latrobe project over its use of brown coal. “The time for digging up dirty, brown coal is over,” says Cam Walker, an activist with Friends of the Earth in Victoria. “We support the development of green hydrogen produced from renewables.”
Read more: https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/australia-hydrogen-road-to-japan-set-to-cut-emissions-20201201-p56jik
A green energy plan so absurd even Elon Musk calls it “mind-boggling stupid”. Yet everyone seems to be taking it seriously.
Japan’s latest joke on gullible Western clean energy enthusiasts is even funnier than when Japan demanded that construction of high efficiency coal plants be classed as “climate finance”.
Reframing dirty low grade coal combustion as clean hydrogen production makes green opposition to new coal plants look like planet wrecking pessimism. I mean, they will get around to building that carbon capture system eventually, right? Everyone has to start somewhere.