Using CEFC Funds For Cleaner Coal A “Slap In The Face”

CEFC and clean coal

Repower Port Augusta is livid over the potential for Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) funding to be used for “clean coal”.

According to an ABC report, the Australian Federal Government is considering enabling the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in carbon capture and storage and  low(er)-emission coal-fired power stations.

If the suggestion was a testing of the waters, the water turned out to be toe-burning hot.

Among those to strongly object was Repower Port Augusta.

“Remember what your government promised Port Augusta? Using clean power funds for new coal is a slap in the face,” tweeted the group.

On May 18 last year, The Advertiser reported on a commitment from the Federal Government to help fund the construction of a solar thermal power plant near Port Augusta.

Repowering Port Augusta
Image : Beyond Zero Emissions

“We have set out when we laid out the Clean Energy Innovation Fund that our number one priority in Australia would be a comprehensive solar thermal plant in Port Augusta,” then-Environment Minister Greg Hunt was quoted as saying.

The $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund is jointly managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). When the fund was originally announced, there were mixed reactions; but its brought hope to the people of Port Augusta.

Repower Port Augusta’s promise aside and the fact that “cleaner” coal would not deliver the required emissions reductions under current guidelines, the CEFC is not a charity – it expects to make returns on its investments.

The Financial Review reports there are only three carbon capture and storage projects operating in the world – none of which are currently commercially viable. Additionally, super- critical coal-fired power stations would also face major challenges in delivering a satisfactory commercial return

The solar thermal project in Port Augusta isn’t some half-baked idea recently floated by hemp-wearing tree-huggers. It has wide business and community support and a blueprint for the project was published in 2012.

Port Augusta is ideal for solar projects as it receives solar irradiation levels of around 4.98 kilowatt hours per square metre daily and significant required infrastructure is already in place.

The solar thermal facility would provide clean, reliable baseload power to help avoid blackouts and bring much needed investment to the Port Augusta region.

Building the 6 solar thermal plants and 95 wind turbines will create 1800 jobs and avoid 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, while improving the health of the local community.

The health issue is a big one – Port Augusta  continued to suffer at the hands of coal, even months after the Northern Power Station was shut down.


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