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NEWS


SPOTLIGHT ON BCIA
What’s News at BCIA?

SKILLS, NETWORKS AND STAKEHOLDER RELATIONS



BCIA seeks to engage with the community on new developments in brown coal utilisation. In addition to running our own seminars (see article page 7), during July BCIA sponsored the screening of the documentary movie "Switch" at the University of Melbourne. Switch is intended to provide a balanced view of the various energy sources available and their potential for large-scale deployment to achieve a low-carbon economy.

One of the key messages in
Switch is that there is no general energy solution that will work in every country. For example, Norway relies 100 per cent on hydroelectric power and France uses 80 per cent nuclear power. In the USA, it was suggested that a combination of shale gas, nuclear, solar and wind energy could replace the coal and oil used for energy production in about 50 years. In each case, the energy mix depends on the natural resources available, strategic security concerns and an ability to pay for innovation.

Another message in
Switch is that no one technology can provide a complete solution to the problem. Renewables are mostly intermittent, so we need reliable sources of energy such as fossil fuels in the mix as well. It was also made clear that transitioning to a low-carbon economy will be very expensive, no matter which option is chosen. If we wish to make the transition as quick and painless as possible, we need to look at how we can leverage our most abundant natural resources.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT



BCIA supports research on technologies that can help the Latrobe Valley transition to a low-carbon economy, preferably while preserving the welfare of the local community.

Our focus is on promoting technologies that can use brown coal in an environmentally responsible fashion. This includes increasing the efficiency of brown coal power production to reduce CO2 emissions, and coal-to-power options that are more flexible and suited to integration with renewables.

We also have a strong focus on development of new, value-added products from brown coal that can support new job-creation opportunities beyond power generation. The future development of brown coal is likely to be strongly linked more to these new opportunities.

A key part of our strategy is to link the use of brown coal with permanent sequestration of the resulting CO2 emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 degree Celsius goal, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely deployed.”

In Victoria, we are fortunate in having the largest and best potential CO2 storage reserve in Australia, in the Gippsland Basin; very close to the power stations in the Latrobe Valley.

The State government is supporting the development of commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the Gippsland Basin through its CarbonNet project (see article
page 4).

With 90 per cent of Victoria’s electricity produced from only four brown coal-fired power stations, the transition to a low-carbon economy could be relatively straightforward. There is potential to maintain continuity of electricity supply while progressively reducing Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions.




For more BCIA news, go to the next page of this e-newsletter.




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