The development of a proposed brown coal export hub in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley is looking more and more unlikely to succeed, according to a new report which describes claims that coal industry expansion would create thousands of jobs – and billions in state royalties – as ”utterly implausible.” The Age reports that new analysis by consultants Economists at Large, commissioned by Environment Victoria, has found that higher processing and transport costs would mean a local coal export industry would struggle to compete with the likes of Indonesia, with better quality brown coal and better strategic positioning for trade.
Even if the Baillieu government’s plans to open up vast coal fields in the Latrobe Valley were viable, the analysis has found that the economic benefits for surrounding regions would likely be limited, with industries losing employees to coal companies. The Victorian government – which has dismissed the report’s findings, via energy minister Michael O’Brien, due to Environment Victoria’s “political and irrational opposition to clean coal technology” – is expected to announce whether it will make new coal allocations before the end of the year. The Department of Primary Industries has estimated there is about 13 billion tonnes of potentially economic coal in the Latrobe Valley.
Royalla 1 making ‘significant progress’
The ACT’s Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, has today praised the “significant progress” being made at Canberra’s Royalla 1 solar project, in getting relevant approvals from the Australian and ACT government in the short time since the contract was awarded. Subject to planning approvals’, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures will build a 20MW fixed-plate solar plant capable of producing enough electricity to power around 4,400 Canberra homes, at around 25c per week per household, or $13 per year. The ACT government expects this cost to fall further to around $9.50 per year by 2020, and estimates a CO2 reduction of around 560,000 tonnes over the 20 year life of the project.
In other news…
Norway last week revealed plans to double carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a $1.6 billion fund to help combat the damaging impacts of climate change in the developing world. The Guardian reports that Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by $US72 per tonne of CO2 and an $US8 per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.
Bankrupt US solar firm Solyndra has filed a lawsuit against three US-listed Chinese solar manufacturers, including Suntech Power Holdings, seeking $1.5 billion in compensation due to monopolisation, according to court documents filed last Thursday.