In the first few months of 2019 Victoria was hit by a range of climate-change driven weather events.
Victoria experienced dangerous bushfires, with fuel loads increased by longer, dryer weather, severe droughts impacting the livelihoods of rural communities, and heatwaves that in combination with antiquated coal fired power stations caused rolling blackouts across the state.
We know that to avoid worsening climate impacts we need to rapidly transition from fossil fuels. However, despite this, there is a plan to open up a new experimental coal project in Victoria.
This coal project, headed by Japanese giant Kawasaki Heavy Industries, aims to produce hydrogen using coal. However, as the intended customer Japan will only take the hydrogen if it can be claimed to be ‘low-carbon’, commercialisation of the plant would be partnered with a waste-carbon injection site (what the fossil fuel industry calls 'carbon capture and storage') off Ninety Mile Beach, where coal-waste would be injected into the seabed off Victoria’s coastline. Furthermore, the export of hydrogen through the Port of Hastings would involve the dredging of a sensitive environment that is already suffering from industrialisation.
Using coal to produce hydrogen and then injecting the waste into the seabed poses a danger to the health of communities in the Latrobe Valley and Ninety Mile Beach, as well as the health of the environment.
Historically, attempts to establish waste-carbon injection have been plagued by technical challenges, delays, and increasingly exorbitant costs. Furthermore, even if this technology did work it would provide no reduction in the current emissions from Victoria’s energy system, as it is partnered with an entirely new coal project.
This is why, despite attempts to paint it as a climate solution, waste-carbon injection off Ninety Mile Beach will not reduce any of the emission from Victoria’s energy system.