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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A carbon policy thread

Cr Philip Penfold blocks advisor - too much advice
Cr Philip Penfold blocks advisor - too much advice

Maitland City Council



File No: P44197
Attachments: Nil
Responsible Officer: David Evans - General Manager

Bernie Mortomore - Executive Manager Planning, Environment and Lifestyle

Clr Ray Fairweather has indicated his intention to move the following Notice of Motion at the next Council Meeting being held on Tuesday 10 July 2012:


  1. The General Manager provide a report to council on all possible options available to council for the reduction of methane gas at the Mt Vincent Waste Site;
  2. What are those options and if council can implement any of those options to reduce the huge carbon tax cost impost on our ratepayers ($2.2 million dollars in 2012/2013 budget);
  3. The report expand on the possible sale of methane gas to generate power for electricity grid and if such a venture would benefit council financially;
  4. The opportunity if one exists for the calling of tenders for the extraction of methane gas for commercial uses; and
  5. What is involved in the 'burning option' of reducing methane gas and carbon tax payments.


The $2.2 million cost of the carbon tax is a huge impost on ratepayers (though it is yet to be properly costed) that needs urgent investigation on all options available to reduce those costs and if economically beneficial should be given urgent priority.


A reduction of methane gas emissions from any landfill can be made by reducing the quantity of organic matter buried at the site as methane gas generation is a product of decomposition of organic materials that are subject to anaerobic conditions. These conditions are found in a landfill.
In the landfill context if methane is being generated then a landfill gas extraction system can be installed to capture the gas, pass it through a flare to convert it to carbon dioxide and hence reduce the carbon footprint of the site. If there is sufficient and constant gas production the gas can be used to power a generator which will create electricity that can be either exported to the grid or used sacrificially on site.
Alternatively organic waste can be processed in aerobic conditions so that it does not convert the waste to methane. It will generate other gases but because methane is said to be more than 21 times more problematic than carbon dioxide the greenhouse gas outputs are reduced. Aerobic waste processing of total organic waste streams utilises some form of technology to control and manage the processes. Council will recall that a waste technology solution was explored through the HIR partnership prior to the project being abandoned.
Council has a contract in place to install a gas extraction system at the Mt Vincent Rd Waste Facility. This contract with LMS Energy was entered into on the basis that infrastructure costs and ongoing management of the system was borne by LMS Energy in return for the carbon credits generated minus a royalty payment to Council. The contract remains in place and commercial in confidence. The system is to be installed within the next 3 months and gas capture should commence towards the end of the year. At this stage the reduction effect on Council's carbon liability remains unknown. It will however reduce the gas emissions from the site.
Whether there will be sufficient gas generation from the site to generate power will be known once the system is commissioned. Given the system is being retrofitted the efficiencies of the gas capture are difficult to model.
A further detailed report can be provided to Council as required.

Page (270)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Transition from thermal coal exports

Australia exports 200 million tonnes of thermal coal each year.

Japan is the largest importer, importing 80 million tonnes per year. In planning to eliminate its reliance on fossil fuel imports, Japan is looking to CO2-free hydrogen to replace its imports of coal and LNG, used primarily for electricity generation, and oil, used primarily for road transport.

One step in the 20-year transition timetable is to invest in large solar PV installations in Saudi Arabia and construction of a 'hydrogen pipeline" to deliver hydrogen produced by electrolysis to Japan.

Another step is the construction of combined-cycle gas turbine power stations that have integrated gasification plants to convert imported coal to gas to fuel them. These plants can later run on hydrogen when sufficient supply is available.

Australia and Japan could co-ordinate projects in this transition of Japan's energy systems.
One of the benefits of co-ordination is that Australia's industry and workforce has a planned transition in how it prepares energy for export, adapting employment skills and infrastructure as the plan progresses.

Another of the benefits is that part of the infrastructure development is undertaken by Australia, sharing the effort so that Japan can focus its investments on the most efficient technology to use the energy it imports.

The long-term transition would see Australia's coal export terminals replaced with hydrogen export facilities and the fleet of bulk ore carriers replaced with specialised hydrogen shipping vessels. The coal mining workforce would gradually be replaced with a workforce that constructs and operates hydrogen production plants.

During the early years of the transition it may be beneficial to convert hydrogen and coal to methane and make use of existing natural gas pipelines, LNG export terminals and LNG tankers to transport the hydrogen to Japan's existing LNG import facilities.

One benefit for Japan would be to avoid the time and cost of building integrated coal-gasifiers with new combined-cycle gas turbine power stations and fuel cell generators. The gasification can be carried out in Australia before exporting the coal with hydrogen as LNG.

Large-scale solar farms are currently built with inverters that are a significant part of the cost.
The inverters change direct-current electricity produced by the solar panels into alternating-current electricity for distribution on the electricity grid.

Inverters aren't needed when the goal is to produce hydrogen by electrolysis with the electricity generated.

A second income-stream from renewable electricity production will assist farmers struggling with drought near coal-mining regions. Solar PV installations could be designed to be "stock-friendly" for Australian livestock producers, and not copies of European installations where fields are covered with closely-spaced solar panels just above ground level.

Cattle and solar PV systems
Cattle and solar PV systems

The renewable energy generated would be fed to electrolysis units creating hydrogen.
The hydrogen is to be transferred into methanation units that have pulverised coal handling equipment where the hydrogen and coal is transformed into methane, ready for transfer to LNG export terminals.

Thyssenkrupp coal handling system
Thyssenkrupp coal handling system
Gasification technologies
Gasification technologies

See Thyssenkrupp Australia - "Power-to-gas: Storing wind and sun [energy] in natural gas"

Power-to-gas: storing wind and sun renewable energy in natural gas

The 2015 Japanese government report "Overview of Assessment by Power Generation Cost Verification Working Group", Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) explained that renewable energy costs are higher in Japan than in other countries, and showed Australia has a comparative advantage in large-scale wind and solar installations.
"Unit construction costs for solar PV and wind power generation systems in Japan are higher than in other countries. ...Apparent factors behind the cost gap include higher personnel costs, complex topography and FIT scheme introduction backgrounds in Japan." (at pages 8-9)

International comparison of unit construction costs for solar PV generation systems

Related posts:

Australian energy exports

Keeping waste plastic out of landfill