Australians support HELE coal generation, MCA says

The Australian minerals industry says there is strong support from Australians for new-generation coal power through High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired generation.

After polling 1,300 Australians aged 18 and older during October and November 2017 through JWS Research, the Minerals Council of Australia says 68 per cent of Australians supported investment in new-generation high technology coal-fired power stations.

The research was conducted following an extensive multi-media campaign by the Australian minerals industry to show Australians the advantages of new-generation coal-fired power plants – a campaign described as clear, educational, relevant and interesting by more than six in 10 people surveyed.

“The goal of Australia’s energy and climate policy framework should be to deliver reliable energy at least cost while meeting the nation’s emissions reduction objectives,” the MCA said in a statement.

“Achieving this goal means applying a technology-neutral approach to all energy sources while avoiding subsidies, quotas or other non-market-oriented interventions.

“And on all three deliverables of cost, reliability and emissions, there are good reasons why high-efficiency low-emission (HELE) coal power should be part of the mix of energy technologies competing to replace retiring baseload power.”

HELE plants are used overseas to reduce the cost of power while bringing down emissions. They operate at higher temperatures and air pressure to more rapidly convert water to steam – improving efficiency, saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 per cent.

“With Australia moving from having some of the lowest to some of the highest energy prices in the developed world over the last decade, HELE remains the cheapest form of dispatchable electricity in Australia with the benefit of much lower emissions than older coal technology,” the MCA says.

“An independent study commissioned by the COAL 21 Fund and the Minerals Council of Australia from Solstice Development Services and GHD in 2017 showed HELE black coal was the lowest-cost generation option at $40-$78 per megawatt hour, compared to gas-powered electricity at $69-$115 per MWh and wind power at $64-$115 per MWh.

“HELE coal-fired generators emit 20-25 per cent less CO2 than the average of existing power stations and up to 40 per cent less than the oldest technology in place.”