Is dirty gas killing clean coal?

December 16, 2012

Beyond Zero Emissions released this statement on December 17.


“Fracking” to tap unconventional gas resources could destroy the much-hyped “clean coal” carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Earlier this year, Scientific American reported findings that “many of the same shale rock formations where companies want to extract gas also happen to sit above optimal sites envisioned for storing carbon dioxide underground that is captured from power plants and industrial facilities.”

Now that unconventional gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing of coal and shale beds is well underway in Australia, the same questions need to be asked of CCS efforts here, such as the Callide project in Queensland that has recently been in the news.

“Australia's booming coal-seam and shale gas industries are going to collide head-on with the government's promises to capture and bury our carbon emissions,” said Matthew Wright of climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

“Clean coal or CCS is a marketing term, and shouldn't be confused with an actual technology.

“If you add the huge costs of capturing, compressing and storing underground to coal combustion, renewables look cost-competitive already – and renewable energy costs are still falling.

“It's not good enough to pump the CO2 underground and just hope it stays there. There has to be genuine risk management – for the investors in these projects, as well as for the atmosphere.

“Geologically speaking, an investor would have to be pretty confident that a CCS reservoir has integrity and that the CO2 wouldn’t just leak out.

"Ironically it is not just the coal industry that is being undermined by this fracking business. The gas industry themselves is making claims that we should back them as a climate solution because it the future they will be offering gas with CCS."

“There's an easy way out of this conundrum. Build renewable energy, not new gas and coal infrastructure. It's guaranteed zero carbon emissions and it's getting cheaper and more efficient all the time.”

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.