In an interview with the ABC, National Low Emissions Coal Council Chairman, Dick Wells, said that even the introduction of a carbon price will not entice the coal industry to invest the billions required for clean-coal plants because it makes no financial sense.

The National Low Emissions Coal Council estimates that between $10 billion and $17 billion is required to have just one industrial-scale, clean-coal power station and a portfolio of smaller projects operating commercially.

Last year, eleven major carbon capture and storage projects were halted worldwide. Two clean-coal power projects in Queensland – ZeroGen and Wandoan – have recently been scrapped or placed on hold.

The Australian Government’s CCS Flagships programme originally promised to spend $2 billion on carbon capture and storage projects. This has since been reduced to $1.68 billion but only $57 million has been spent. The Government has abandoned a promise to make new coal-fired power plants CCS-ready and the technology was excluded from the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

In the face of all this, the Commonwealth Government has now committed $70 million, and the Victorian State Government has committed $30 million, toward the development of a carbon capture and storage facility in the LaTrobe Valley.  The CarbonNet project aims to capture carbon emissions from power plants, industrial processes and coal-based industries in the Valley and store them in geological basins.

Commonwealth funding is to come from the CCS Flagships programme. The only other project remaining in the programme is the Western Australian Collie South West Hub development.