Letters to the editor: Clean coal for the Mudgee region?

It is now well established that ‘clean’ coal power is a dishonest term. We are very good at taking carbon out of the ground and burning it in all sorts of ingenious ways. However, there is clear evidence gathered world-wide that has established beyond any reasonable doubt, burning fossil carbon is changing our atmosphere and oceans in potentially disastrous ways - higher temperatures, longer and increasingly dangerous fire seasons, intensified droughts and storm events. Coal fired power generation cannot compete with solar and wind on cost. The idea it will in some way reduce power costs is a delusion. Coal fired power stations use gigalitres of water, even more so when some of the carbon pollution is captured. If Mudgee Councillors want to support this proposal, I suggest informing yourselves of some of the facts and leave the Ulan/Wollar area be. Failing that, a more honest site for this coal fired power station would be on the Cudgegong.

Colin Imrie

What is Councillor Thompson trying to do to Mudgee? Our 'Nest in the Hills' is sadly becoming just a mining town. A coal-fired power station, as well as the three mines and the forthcoming Lue Lead (silver) mine, will clinch it, won't it? Clinched also, will be the deal on any hope more locally for the environment and communities around Ulan.

As for 'Clean Coal' technology, it  "...is being developed to attempt to help lessen the environmental impact of coal energy generation.." (- Wikipedia) it would be cheaper to develop friendly eyeglasses which filter out coal-blackened flouro and huge grimy utes (which have displaced Church and Market Streets' friendly laid-back atmosphere of late afternoons and evenings - every single day of every week...). It's like this with coal; one thing leads to another. And unless you're the big-biccy minority it's one disaster to another.   

Will the Mudgee Guardian run this poll again when people learn that 'Clean Coal' technology is a very costly thing of the future? And also when the poll on the online page is not accompanied by 'glowing' advertisements for Ulan Mine?  

Viv Armitage

It would be laughable were it not so serious. It almost defies belief but, unfortunately it is true.

In the same week that the EJA  report; “Toxic and Terminal” exposes the huge pollution and health risks of coal-fired power stations and the SA government goes forward with plans for a 150-megawatt solar thermal plant, the largest of its kind in the world, the Mid-Western Regional Council seriously suggests exploring the feasibility of a new “Clean Coal” power-station in Ulan.

“Clean” Coal is HELE (High Energy Low Emissions) it sounds persuasive and the Minerals Council and Federal government spruik it as capable of “halving coal-fired emissions”, however, less biased reports from various sources generally agree to around a 14% reduction, thus not “clean” just “cleaner” and at 20-30% more cost.

Unless Cr. Thompson is thoroughly brain-washed it must be apparent that HELE power will not decrease consumer costs, quite the opposite.

Emissions from current coal-fired power stations emit more than 30 toxic substances, including mercury. They’re Australia’s biggest single source of fine particle pollution and oxides of nitrogen as well as sulphur dioxide. The health costs of these emissions inflict a $2.6 billion impost on the public purse. This is a serious problem and one that will not be magically solved by a 14% reduction in emissions.

The Port Augusta solution (and other renewable initiatives) is the way forward for Australia. The cost of renewable power is falling rapidly.

It is time to relinquish the love-affair with coal and embrace the commercial opportunities and jobs that a renewable economy can offer.

Judith Leslie

There is no such thing as the production of ‘clean coal’. It requires carbon capture and sequestration –CCS – in which, simply put, the harmful emissions from coal fired powder stations are captured, liquefied and turned into gas. This gas has to be buried and that would require an extensive network of pipelines and underground storage sites with the possibility of gas escaping. And green house emissions are still produced by ‘clean coal’. Furthermore, it would be enormously expensive. The ONE ‘clean coal’ power station proposed by the Coalition government would cost $2.2 billion. With banks and big institutions getting out of coal, the cost would probably be born by taxpayers. Mid Western Regional Council already has many large renewable energy projects.We should continue this expansion – it is the way of the future.

Name withheld

Counsellor  Thompson’s call for a feasibility study for a coal fired power station at Ulan is nonsense, it won’t happen.The private sector won’t look at it. Wallerwang was recently closed.

The state government is occupied in tearing up Sydney.

In regards to power prices, it’s a matter of shopping around for the best prices.

Rick McGregor

We have lived in the Ulan area since 1975 and have operated a holiday cottage and retreat eco-business since 1982 – Goulburn River Stone Cottages. Our business draws people to this area from all over the world to enjoy and celebrate the stunning natural scenery provided by the Goulburn River that includes The Drip and Corner gorges. The Mudgee area prides itself on its clean green image, gourmet food and wine reputation and quality produce.

We were shocked to hear of the recent support by MWRC councillors for the State Government to undertake a feasibility study for a so called ‘clean coal’ electricity station in the region – targeting the Ulan area. We suggest those Councillors who supported this motion inform themselves of the facts. Bear in mind that the technology  and economic situation relating to power energy  is changing month by month and we all need to keep up by casting off old attitudes and beliefs.

We recommend the following references but encourage you to look further.

The Conversation – Fact Check - Q&A: is coal still cheaper than renewables as an energy source?

Solar Power will kill coal sooner than you think – Bloomberg Finance -  15 June, 2017

Poor Air Quality is the True Cost of Coal – 16 August 2017

Base-cost renewables: When wind and solar finally kill coal   Renew Economy - 19 July 2017

Quote from Treasurer Scott Morrison  “Let’s not think there is cheap new coal, there’s not”  - and anyone claiming it is the sole solution to the nation's energy dilemma is propagating a myth. Australian Financial Review

The Ulan Wollar area has contributed far more than its fair share to the local economy and continues to suffer significantly from the social disruption and environmental degradation created by coal mining. Referring to coal generation as “clean” coal power is dishonest and will not help to reduce power costs in the future. A far more constructive move would be for Council to support the development of solar farms on the degraded mined land in the Ulan Wollar area.

Evidence gathered world-wide has established beyond any reasonable doubt, burning fossil carbon is changing our atmosphere and oceans in potentially disastrous ways – higher temperatures, longer and increasingly dangerous fire seasons, intensified droughts and storm events– all directly affecting country areas as we have seen in the recent Sir Ivan and White Cedar Road wildfires and violent storms in Mudgee CBD.. This is no longer a prediction this is happening.

A new coal fired power station cannot compete with solar and wind on cost. The idea it will in some way reduce power costs is a complete delusion. Coal fired power stations also consumes gigalitres of precious water, and even more so when some of the carbon pollution is captured. This is an unacceptable use of this precious resource in regional inland Australia.

We should not be trashing the Mudgee region’s brand as a desirable place for people to visit and live. The local community would very much like to hear individual Councillors views on this important issue.

Julia and Colin Imrie


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