ZeroGen’s area of study for its power station stretches from Biloela west towards Emerald and Springsure.
ZeroGen’s area of study for its power station stretches from Biloela west towards Emerald and Springsure. Ibridge

Clean coal a maybe for CQ

CENTRAL Queensland will be the focus of an extensive environmental impact study, due to start next month, that could see the construction of Australia’s first low-emission, coal-fired power station.

ZeroGen says it hopes to have a 530 megawatt power plant operational inside five years.

The $4.3 billion project – which could create 700 construction jobs and 200 full time operational jobs – was originally planned to include a smaller demonstration clean-coal power station at Stanwell by 2012.

But that plan was scrapped when Mitsubishi Heavy Industries joined the project. It had already proven the viability of the technology in Japan and it was considered there was no need to create a demonstration plant with a limited lifespan near Rockhampton.

Although that is a major blow to Rockhampton’s economy – news of the Stanwell project was warmly welcomed in March 2008 – the region is still expected to benefit greatly from the investment and the technology.

The company has confirmed to The Morning Bulletin that its preference is for the full-scale plant to be built in Central Queensland. Scientists are studying a massive area stretching from Biloela west towards Springsure and Emerald to find the right geological location, close to coal mines.

A final site will be determined by a pre-feasibility study which will be completed by June.

Some of the places being considered include Dingo, Blackwater, Comet, Banana, Moura, Baralaba and Woorabinda.

A ZeroGen spokesman said the plant would capture and store up to 90% of its CO2 emissions in deep underground reservoirs.

“Projects like ZeroGen are essential in enabling the rapid and widespread commercial deployment of low-emission technologies around the world, including emerging countries such as China and India,” he said.

ZeroGen’s partners include the Federal and Queensland governments, Australia’s black coal industry and Mitsubishi, and last month the Federal Minister for Resources, Martin Ferguson, announced it had been shortlisted for financial support.

The Queensland Resources Council, which represents the state’s mining companies, says the project is of global importance and could help to guarantee the future of coal as an electrical power generator for decades to come.

The EIS is expected to be completed by September 2011 and if all goes to plan construction could start as early as January 2012.

ZeroGen is a wholly owned Queensland Government company.

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