The Australian economy continues to rely on coal as a source of affordable, reliable electricity. Coal supplied 69 per cent of electricity to the National Electricity Market in 2019, while gas supplied 9 per cent, hydro 7 per cent and other renewable energy (wind, solar farms and solar PV), 16 per cent.
Australian coal is also in demand for process heat, which is used in the production of alumina, chemicals, machinery and asphalt production, cement and steel making. Its high-energy, low ash characteristics match the requirements for modern, high efficiency coal-fired power plants being built throughout Asia, while our high grade metallurgical coals are amongst the best in the world for modern steel making.
Supplier reliability, proximity to key markets and good infrastructure availability put Australia in a strong position to take advantage of growing demand from customers in Japan, China, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Europe as well as newer buyers in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Lowering emissions with Australian Coal
A technological transformation is underway to reduce the emissions associated with coal-fired power generation.
The development and adoption of low emissions technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, is required to ensure the future use of coal is aligned with Paris Agreement commitments.
Hundreds of new high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal-fired plants are in operation, under construction or planned in Europe, North America and East Asia led by China and Japan.
These plants operate at much higher temperatures and greater pressures, producing reliable, base load energy while reducing CO2 emissions by up to 40 per cent, and reducing all other emissions including particulates to negligible levels.
The plants continue to deliver affordable baseload electricity, and will ensure coal has a fundamental role to play in the provision of low cost, reliable energy for the foreseeable future.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are also continuing to be rolled out around the world, including the operation of the world’s first commercial CCS plant at Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan, Canada. The Boundary Dam plant has slashed CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent.
ACARP: the Australian black coal industry’s research program
ACARP is an industry-funded research program which delivers significant safety, environmental and economic improvements to the coal industry. It invests approximately $20 million per year into research which focuses on everything from occupational health and safety, to environmental rehabilitation, to technical improvements, to community concerns and greenhouse gas mitigation. The research is carried out by well-respected, independent Australian research organisations including CSIRO, major universities, consultants and service providers. Find out more at www.acarp.com.au
Australian Carbon Innovation
ACI is a not-for-profit company with a mandate to co-invest with stakeholders in carbon innovation (including CO₂ recycle), hydrogen utilisation and emissions reduction technologies. Find out more at www.acinnovation.com.au/
Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research & Development
ANLEC R&D conducts research that underpins the development and deployment of low emission coal technologies (LECT). In particular, it aims to provide independent and objective analysis, data and expertise to facilitate the design, permitting and operation of LECT plants using Australian coal under Australian conditions. ANLEC R&D is co-funded by both the Australian Government and the Australian coal industry, which are each contributing $75 million towards this partnership. Find out more at anlecrd.com.au/
CO2CRC is Australia’s leading carbon capture and storage research organisation. It has safely injected, monitored and contained 95,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over more than a decade. The organisation designs, project manages and funds CCS programs utilising the best international and local talent. CO2CRC demonstrates carbon capture and storage in-field at its $100m Otway International Test Centre. Find out more at co2crc.com.au
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has a long history of undertaking research relevant to the safety, environmental performance and productivity of the Australian coal mining industry. This includes work on: Find out more at: https://www.csiro.au/