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The HRL coal fired power station

Check here for our HRL action alert (Sept 2010).

4th August, 2010: HRL proposal tests government resolve on climate. FoE release available here.

What is the HRL proposal?

Dual Gas - a subsidiary of Melbourne company HRL – is planning to build and operate a $750 million, 600MW coal fired power plant in the Latrobe Valley near the Loy Yang B power station.

HRL has been attempting to build a coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley since the project was announced by then Minister for Energy and Resources Candy Broad in 2002, and had promised the power station would be operating in 2008. It has been through a range of investors and management structures since then.

The HRL project has struggled to find any financial backers apart from the State and Federal Government. Last year, Chinese manufacturer Harbin Power withdrew its 50 per cent stake.

The plant was originally intended to be 400MW, and if allowed to proceed  this new coal station will add 4.2 million tonnes of greenhouse polluting emissions to Australia’s atmosphere annually, increasing Victoria's annual emissions by about 3 per cent.

It currently has an approval application with the Victorian Environment Protection Authority. The EPA must deliver a decision on the proposal by Jan 2, 2011.

What are the claims that this will be 'cleaner'


The proponent hopes that the plant will produce power with about 30 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than current Victorian 'best practice' in brown coal generation plants.

This is because of new technology, called ‘integrated drying and gasification combined cycle’ or IDGCC. This technology has been developed by the Australian-owned energy, technology and project development company HRL, with more than $140 million research and development investment.

This has been substantially subsidised by the tax payer through state and federal funding.

Who are HRL?


HRL was formerly part of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and was known as Herman Research Laboratories, privatised by the Kennett Government in 1995. It is a privately owned, non-listed Australian company of which Kerry Stokes (Channel 7) is a 40% shareholder. HRL owns and operates several coal facilities in the Latrobe Valley and is involved in the development of coal projects across Australia.

How can HRL be called ‘clean coal’?


Clean coal is an oxymoron. The HRL coal station will burn brown coal in a process known as Integrated Drying Gasification Combined Cycle (IDGCC). This technology has only been tested in a pilot scale and not commercially proven. If the HRL coal-fired power plant goes ahead it will produce greenhouse emissions at a similar scale to that of a standard black coal fired power station.

How much greenhouse pollution would HRL emit?


Emissions from HRL are expected to be up to 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 annually, with an expected expected emissions intensity of between 0.78 and 0.89 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour (MW) - roughly the equivilent of a modern black coal power station. HRL is not proposed in order to replace any existing coal power stations, it will add to our annual emissions. HRL cannot be built with carbon capture and storage (CCS) as according the Energy Minister Peter Bachelor “no infrastructure currently exists to store CO2 captured from power stations in the Latrobe Valley.”

HRL and water


HRL would consume approximately one tonne of water per MWh, or 3 gigalitres (3 billion litres) a year from an already stressed Latrobe Valley river system.

What about jobs


Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Gippsland regional organiser Steve Dodd has said he is concerned that most of the construction would take place overseas before the pre-fabricated plant was shipped to Victoria. This would mean there would be far fewer jobs than would be the case with a conventional coal fired power station.

Who is paying for HRL?


The Victorian Government has committed $50 million to the project as part of its Energy Technology Innovation Strategy (ETIS).

HRL then attracted a further $100 million from the Australian Federal Government’s Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund (LETDF) for the construction of the new power station.

The company is still seeking financing to be able to complete the project.

State of the project


The company has attempted to re-brand its stalled coal project as a gas-fired power station after it was realised that the current proposal would not meet the new energy emissions standards outlined in the Victorian governments Climate Change Bill.

It is saying that it hopes to have the project running by 2012 or 2013.

The plant can go ahead only if the Victorian Environment Protection Authority was satisfied it met the emissions limit for new plants - 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour generated.

In its most recent application posted on the EPA website, HRL estimates its plant would have average emissions between 0.78 and 0.89 tonnes per megawatt hour - roughly equivalent to a modern black-coal power plant.

In August 2010 it withdrew its current application and lodged a very similar proposal in early September.

Our position


Friends of the Earth strongly opposes this project, and the building of any new coal fired power stations, as it will lead to an increase in emissions and defer the inevitable transition to a low carbon future.

Australia needs a moratorium on all new coal fired power stations and a rapid and just transition to a renewable energy future.

Victorian Premier gives go-ahead to first cab off the rank of new generation of coal power stations.

The proposed HRL 400 MW coal fire power station received a push towards construction on July 1, 2008. Victorian government announced its approval of what is being positioned as the first cab off the rank of a new generation of so called 'clean coal' power stations in Australia. Far from being clean the HRL proposal will, if allowed to go ahead, be a disaster for climate change.

The HRL proposal has been beset by financial and siting issues including construction budget blow-out from $500 million to over $750 million dollars. HRL was originally to be located near the Latrobe Valley's Loy Yang 'A' coal facility. As part of the July 1 announcement of state government approval of the proposal, it was announced HRL will now be situated adjacent to the Loy Yang B coal station. Questions of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIS) and other regulatory issues related to changed locations for the project remain unclear. While the timeline for HRL has been continually changing with construction originally set to commence in 2007 and delaying until at least 2009, with an expected timeline for operations 2013 changed from earlier estimates of 2010-11.

The HRL proposal will burn 2.4 million tonnes of brown coal a year emitting 2.4 to  2.7 million tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere annually. HRL has been promoted as one of the new generation of so-called 'clean coal' power stations as it will reduce emissions from burning brown coal by 30%, giving it the emissions standards of a black coal power station, and may be adaptable to carbon capture and storage (CCS) if this technology is ever proven safe and viable.

The Australian Climate Justice Program and Greenpeace took HRL to the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2007 as promoting HRL as 'clean coal' is misleading. Since that complaint to the ACCC HRL have refrained from calling this specific proposal 'clean coal' while supporters are still describing this project as so-called 'clean coal'.

With the Victorian state government giving approval to HRL, and $50 million dollars in taxpayer funded grants (federally HRL has received $100 million in government grants), the need for a strong campaign to stop this coal fire power station and establishing a moratorium on all new coal fire power stations is urgent!

Scientific evidence shows we are on the brink of an age of runaway climate change, fuelled by our reliance on dirty fossil fuels sources such as coal, and especially brown coal; upon which HRL will be reliant. To pull our planet back from the brink of runaway climate change we need to stand up and create real action on climate change; consisting of a moratorium on all new coal fire power stations and a just transition towards a future powered by renewable energy solutions.

Friends of the Earth are leading the campaign to halt the proposed HRL coal fire power station in the Latrobe Valley and bring about a moratorium on all new coal fire power stations. We need your
support to make this happen, as it is on of the most important steps we can make in turning around runaway climate change. By accessing our online campaign tools to stop HRL, becoming a financial supporter of the HRL campaign and joining our campaign for a moratorium on new coal fire power stations we can stop new coal fire power stations like HRL, get a moratorium on new coal fire power stations and take real action on climate change!

For more information on HRL and how you can get involved see the Climate Change pages on this site or go to

HRL - Burning Coal at Three Minutes to Midnight

With $150 million of state and federal government grants this new coal fire power station has benefited from a large injection of taxpayer money to continue Victoriaís reliance on coal based electricity. The proposed HRL coal fire power plant is one of the first of the so-called ëclean coalí power plants scheduled to be built, and if allowed to go ahead will expand Australiaís reliance on polluting fossil fuel sources of energy such as coal, to the detriment of the clean, green renewable energy solutions available to us. A key component of the FoEM climate campaign is to create ways in which people from all walks of life can become part of the rapidly growing campaign to halt climate change. With a strong focus on community engagement and movement building, as well as tackling Victoria's incredibly polluting brown coal based power sector. FoEM provides a strong climate campaign in Victoria that recognises we need urgent action to halt climate change; combining deep cuts in our greenhouse pollution, a shift to clean green renewable energy sources, energy and resource efficiency with the need for doing so in a just and equitable way.

No Coal Exports Rally

Where: Parliament of Victoria Steps, Spring St Melbourne

When: 1-1.45pm, Tuesday 10th December

The Victorian Government is set to allocate up to 13 billion tonnes of brown coal from the Latrobe Valley for companies to export overseas. And just to sweeten the deal, they want to hand over $90 million to help the companies develop the highly experimental technology needed to export it. But we say enough is enough.


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A new coal mine in South Gippsland?

Gelliondale Resources, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ignite Energy Resources Limited, is currently applying for a Retention Licence to facilitate the the development of the Gelliondale Coal Project. The proposed area for the Retention Licence (RL 2013) is in the South Gippsland region, near Gelliondale and Hedley.

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