New coal tech ‘more harm than good’

Emerging brown coal technology development projects announced for the Latrobe Valley could pollute more over their full lifecycle than existing conventional alternatives, according to an environment body.

Environment Victoria suggested the new coal technology projects promised to create “cleaner” brown coal products such as fertiliser, pyrolysis and high value char used in steelmaking, but lacked environmental assessment or an understanding of the lifecycle of emissions.

The doubts follow a joint $50 million state and federal government grant to brown coal technology developers, Coal Energy Australia and Ignite Energy Resources on Friday.

Environment Victoria acting chief executive Mark Wakeham said there was no rigorous assessment of the lifecycle of emissions of producing liquid fuels, fertilisers, steel inputs or any other by-products.

Mr Wakeham said the projects put faith in government that such alternatives would lower emissions with no evidence to support the claims.

“These unconventional coal processing techniques and products pose a high economic and environmental risk,” he said.

Mr Wakeham acknowledged the government recognised “the writing was on the wall as fas as power generation”, they were also looking to other markets to keep the “brown-coal dream alive”.

“They say they recognise the writing is on the wall as far as power generation, yet there is no plan to retire coal-fired power stations, and now the electricity market is in oversupply,” he said.

“New brown coal technology is less about securing our own electricity supply and more about speculative export pipe dreams.

“This is no time to be pushing new projects which could lead to a coal allocation and new mines.”