Australia Launches Clean Coal Carbon Capture Plant Technology

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 17, 2012 1:08 PM EST

Australia has launched over the weekend its first clean coal carbon capture plant technology in central Queensland, in a bid to lessen the country's mammoth contributions to the world's overall greenhouse gas emissions generated from coal-fired power stations.

The $230 million worth Callide Oxyfuel clean coal carbon capture plant project, which took eight years to finish, is Australia's largest and first fully integrated oxyfuel CCS project. Essentially, its technology will use a mixture of exhaust gases as well as oxygen to combust coal at a super-high temperature.

"This clean coal carbon capture plant project is designed to catch over 85 per cent of the CO2, of the flue gases being treated," Chris Spero, project director, told ABC News' AM. He said the plant's main goal is to burn coal with pure oxygen for less waste, and then confine and gather the greenhouse gases rather than release them into the atmosphere.

The program, which originated under the former Howard government, is backed by the Japanese government. Australia's Federal Government has committed another $13 million to ensure the Oxyfuel plant's operations until end 2014.

But Matthew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions, believed the solution to curbing greenhouse gas emissions is elsewhere, with far better chances of success.

"There's technology to save it, it's fairly advanced, its efficiency is rising and costs are coming down - it's called renewable energy," he said in The Sydney Morning Herald. "We shouldn't socialise the cost of (the coal industry's) lobbying."

Energy minister Martin Ferguson, though, said the government is looking at all possible angles and efforts such as adopting the clean coal carbon capture plant technology to cut the country's emissions from burning coal.

"We are going to test every technology and see what comes through at best available commercial cost," he said. "Who will know what will be a breakthrough in the next decade?"

The clean coal carbon capture plant and its technology will run on trial mode for two years.

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