Stacks of cash en route

The public will have to wait until 2014 to learn which alternative brown coal companies have successfully secured a share of $90 million in government money, designed to help fund demonstration plants in the Latrobe Valley.

Recipients of the joint-government Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program funding were, under the previous Federal Government, expected to be announced in late 2013.

In a brief update this week, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said while the successful recipients had been decided upon, the timeline for a public announcement had been extended.

“Successful projects will be announced once agreements have been entered into in the first half of 2014,” a spokesperson for Mr Macfarlane said.

While alternative coal technology developers Shanghai Electric Group, Coal Energy Australia and Ignite Energy Resources, Exergen and Environmental Clean Technologies were believed to be among the preferred candidates, only three or four companies were likely to be successful.

ALDP applicants remained tightlipped about their respective success, due to confidentiality clauses tied to the application process.

The funding is designed to help companies establish demonstration plants to commercially prove their respective alternative brown coal technologies, thereby attracting further private investment.

Companies trialling brown coal technologies have struggled to attract private investment in the pre-commercial stages.

EnergyAustralia group operations director Michael Hutchinson said he was hopeful “one or two” projects currently working to establish demonstration plants at Yallourn Power Station were among the successful recipients. “The ALDP money would be a real kick start for some of these companies which we are supporting (at Yallourn), of which there are four that I know of at various stages of development,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“We are not funding these projects, but the approach we have taken is facilitation – at Yallourn we can provide them with a site, with coal, electricity and water.

“If these proponents are successful in attracting funding, either through the ALDP or the private sector, we can assist them in getting their plants up and running on our site.”