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Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Control of Power Station Emissions) Bill 2008

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Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Control of Power Station Emissions) Bill 2008



















(Circulated by authority of Senator Lyn Allison)






The purpose of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Control of Power Station Emissions) Bill 2008 is to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 .


This private senator's bill sets an emissions standard of a greenhouse gas emission intensity threshold that any new power station must comply with by using a technology with less than 0.6 Tonnes of CO2 equivalent per Mega Watt Hour (on a full fuel cycle basis).  


This will have the effect of focusing the efforts of industry to use coal or gas in a more efficient and clean manner. A full fuel cycle basis is the emission-intensity at the smoke stack and not offset through planting trees or buying carbon credits or other form of offset.  Setting this greenhouse emission intensity threshold will drive innovation and improvements on 100 year old technology currently used in Australian coal fired power stations.


To put this in perspective the average greenhouse intensity of NSW’s electricity between 1998 and 2003 was 1.05 TCO2 / MWh, ultra-supercritical black coal technology used at Millmerrin Power Station in Queensland is 0.78 TCO2 / MWh, integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) is 0.72 TCO2 / MWh, combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) is 0.43 TCO2 / MWh - the same technology used at Swanbank - and gas fired cogeneration is 0.3 TCO2 / MWh. 


Currently in Australia power stations must apply to State Environment Protection Authorities and they must comply with State defined pollution controls.  Greenhouse gas emissions are currently not controlled.  This Bill requires power station approval to be referred to the Minister for the Environment and only approved after sufficient evidence that the technology to be used will result in an emission standard of not more than 0.6 Tonnes of CO2-equivalent per MWh.


At such time that the power station is operating and if the emission standard is exceeded the power station will be required to cease operation until the emissions standard can meet the emission standard.


The coal fired power station emission standard in this bill would complement, not interfere with, an emissions trading scheme.


Market schemes need to be supported and backed up by minimum standard, below which activity is outlawed.  If an emissions trading scheme is the incentive, then standards are the stick and together they provide the push and the pull that is needed to reduce carbon intensity.


This bill and the setting of minimum greenhouse emissions intensity for new power stations is a commitment to and an unequivocal statement to investors that new power stations must meet a minimum standard.  A regulatory minimum is the insurance policy on an emissions trading scheme.  It closes the door on any temptation on going back to the polluting clunkers that belong to the 19 th century technology.  It would close the door on allowing mothballed power stations like Hazelwood in the Latrobe Valley - the worst of the worst of the greenhouse polluters - from coming back on line.