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Taking Action for Victoria's Future

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Taking Action for Victoria's Future is the title of the Victorian Labor government's Climate Change White Paper.

In a forward to the White Paper, the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, stated that the government would "set Victoria a target to reduce emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared to 2000 levels (equivalent to 40% per capita)." Amongst other commitments, Brumby wrote that the government would "commit to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of Victorian brown coal-fired generators by up to four million tonnes over the next four years, culminating in a total saving of 28 million tonnes by 2020, equivalent to the closure of two units of Hazelwood Power Station".[1]

In a media release accompanying the White Paper, Brumby stated that "the most cost-effective way to clean up our environment and achieve this reduction in greenhouse gas over the next four years is to close two of the eight units at Hazelwood Power Station."[2]

Under the banner of "Moving towards a cleaner energy future" the government committed to cutting emissions from the brown coal-fired power generators by 4 million tonnes per annum by 2014. The White paper stated that the government intended to achieve this through "discussion with all of Victoria’s brown coal-fired generators" and stated that it intended to "conduct a competitive ‘open book’ process in order to ensure that the abatement is secured at least cost for Victoria."

As for new power generation, the white paper stated, the government would "ensure no new brown coal power based on conventional technologies". The White Paper stated that "the Victorian Government commits to no new approvals being granted for new coal fired power stations based on conventional brown coal technologies. Through the Climate Change Bill we will set a target emission level of 0.8 tonnes of C02 equivalent (per MWh) for new power stations – bettering the performance of black coal stations and broadly comparable to the performance of open cycle gas. This measure will provide greater certainty for investors in new, low emissions power stations."[3]

Critique of ALP's position on Hazelwood

Environment Victoria, the peak environmental lobby group for non-government organisations, welcomed the commitment to cut emissions from brown coal by 4 million tonnes per year by 2014 but criticised the lack of detail. In particular, it pointed out that shuttering one-quarter of Hazelwood, which provides 2500 gigawatt hours of output, would only make a significant contribution to the emissions reduction target if the replacement generation capacity wasn't based on fossil fuels.

In its analysis of election policies, Environment Victoria wrote that while "the ALP’s plan supports 500 GWh from large scale solar projects by 2014. The other 2000 GWh could possibly come from a range of sources including renewable energy projects supported by the national renewable energy target, increased coal power imports from NSW or SA, increased gas‐fired generation in Victoria or from the proposed new coal‐fired power station in the Latrobe Valley. This 600 MW coal‐fired power station, proposed by HRL Dual Gas, has been supported and promised a $50 million grant by the State ALP Government."[4]

Environment Victoria concluded:

"If much of Hazelwood’s current generation is replaced with fossil fuel generation (particularly coal generation) it will be difficult to achieve the ALP’s 4 million tonnes reduction target from brown coal unless more than 2 units of Hazelwood are closed. Similarly replacing part or all of Hazelwood with coal generation will make it extremely unlikely that Victoria achieves its target to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020."[4]

Environment Victoria also criticised the lack of clarity in the government's commitment to only allow new power stations which emitted less than 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.

In its revised application for the propos Dual Gas power station, HRL Dual Gas stated that the proposed plant would "generate approximately 600MW" of power "for sale in the National Electricity Market by 2013", that the average greenhouse gas emissions intensity of the plant "is expected to be in the ).73 to 0.78 tonnes" cO2equivalent per megawatt hour "over the life of the project" and that it would be built to enable "potential retro-fitting of pre-combustion CO2 capture technology (when commercially viable)". The company stated that annual greenhouse gas emissions were "expected to range from 3.0 million tonnes to approximately 3.2 million tonnes" and consume up to 2 gigalitres of water a year.[5]

In its submission to the EPA, Environment Victoria that "because the proposed emissions intensity standard has not been enshrined in a SEPP [State Environment Protection Policy], there is no agreed definition for the 0.8 tonnes of CO2‐e/MWh standard." In particular, it noted that in its first application, HRL Dual Gas stated that "the Greenhouse Gas emissions Intensity (GGI) of the DGDP is expected to lie within the range 0.46 to 0.89 CO2‐e per MWh (of electrical energy sent out) over the life of the project." ('Sent out' power is the amount actually dispatched to the grid. The emissions intensity of 'sent out' power would include all the emissions incurred such as those from from the coal drying and power generation processes and any on-site transmission losses.) However, in its revised application, HRL Dual Gas stated that "the GHG emissions intensity of the DGDP is expected to range between approximately 0.73– 0.78 tonne CO2‐e/MWh over the life of the project. This is (“as generated” data)." However, the federal government's Technical Guidelines: Generator Efficiency Standards adopted the 'sent out' benchmark.

In its submission, Environment Victoria noted that "what appears to be an accounting trick by the proponent does nothing to reduce the actual emissions of the HRL Dual Gas project to the atmosphere. Surely in regulating pollution, EPA must assess applications for works approvals on the basis of the absolute pollution from the proposed works, not just the pollution associated with part of a production cycle."[6] The group also argued that the proposed project did not meet internal 'best practice' in terms of emissions standards and was inconsistent with the Climate Change Act which had been ratified by the Victorian Parliament in early September 2010.

Website

Website: http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/climate-change.html

Articles and Resources

References

  1. John Brumby, "Message from the Premier", Taking Action for Victoria's Future, August 2010.
  2. John Brumby, "Brumby unveils plan to lead nation on climate action", July 26, 2010.
  3. Government of Victoria, Action 2 - Moving towards a cleaner energy future", Taking Action for Victoria’s Future website, August 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Environment Victoria, "Where the major Victorian parties stand on replacing Hazelwood power station", November 9, 2010.
  5. Dual Gas, "Dual Gas Demonstration Plant:EPA Works Approval Application Summary", September 1, 2010.
  6. Environment Victoria, "Environment Victoria submission on HRL Dual Gas Works", October 6, 2010, page 4.

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External resources

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