Aussie Brown Coal to Clean Hydrogen Plant will Address Carbon Capture “Eventually”

Hazelwood Coal Plant. Simpsons fan 66 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Proponents are celebrating Kawasaki Heavy Industry’s planned construction of a coal to hydrogen plant in Victoria, which is intended to prove the viability of the clean hydrogen supply chain. Just one thing is missing from the proposed clean energy plant; the part where they capture all the CO2 emitted by burning vast quantities of low grade coal to produce the “clean hydrogen”.

Australia ‘hydrogen road’ to Japan set to cut emissions

A consortium’s $500m project will produce hydrogen from brown coal in one of the world’s first zero-emission energy supply chains.

Jamie Smyth and Robin Harding
Dec 1, 2020 – 3.14pm

A Japanese-Australian consortium is set to begin producing hydrogen from brown coal in a $500 million pilot project seen by its architects as the first step in creating one of the world’s first zero-emission energy supply chains.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, J-Power and Shell Japan have joined Australia’s AGL Energy and several international partners to produce, liquefy and ship hydrogen to Japan. They intend to burn some of the 5 billion tonnes of lignite in the valley, enough to power Victoria for more than 500 years, to produce hydrogen.

Eventually, they intend to capture the carbon generated by the process and inject it into under-sea basins in the nearby Bass Strait. For now, however, their goal is to prove the viability of the supply chain and the emissions will continue to be released into the atmosphere.

Yet, the scepticism remains. Tesla co-founder Elon Musk has dismissed hydrogen fuel cells as “mind-bogglingly stupid”, saying it is inefficient to use them in a car compared with charging a lithium-ion battery directly from a solar panel. Other critics ask whether producing hydrogen from fossil fuels can ever be made cost-effective or clean given that the industry has so far failed to prove the commercial case for carbon capture and storage.

Environmental groups have also raised objections to the Latrobe project over its use of brown coal. “The time for digging up dirty, brown coal is over,” says Cam Walker, an activist with Friends of the Earth in Victoria. “We support the development of green hydrogen produced from renewables.”

Read more:

A green energy plan so absurd even Elon Musk calls it “mind-boggling stupid”. Yet everyone seems to be taking it seriously.

Japan’s latest joke on gullible Western clean energy enthusiasts is even funnier than when Japan demanded that construction of high efficiency coal plants be classed as “climate finance”.

Reframing dirty low grade coal combustion as clean hydrogen production makes green opposition to new coal plants look like planet wrecking pessimism. I mean, they will get around to building that carbon capture system eventually, right? Everyone has to start somewhere.

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December 4, 2020 2:06 pm

They could make liquid fuels that would not need to be cryogenically compressed.

Reply to  Scissor
December 4, 2020 6:25 pm

Coal has a higher carbon to hydrogen ration than either gas or oil. Thus it would produce more CO2 and would seem to be a poor starting material.

Reply to  donb
December 4, 2020 7:03 pm

Steam reforming. Hydrogen comes from water.

Coeur de Lion
December 4, 2020 2:12 pm

I’ve always worried that ‘carbon capture’ (ugh!) might mean capture from the atmosphere and thus be Chinese and Indian CO2 and that might be a major task. Would they take it back once ‘captured’?

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
December 4, 2020 2:58 pm

Only if Xi Jinping has signed each molecule himself.

Reply to  leowaj
December 4, 2020 6:28 pm

Like corona virus Xi must get to determine the origin of the molecule as all the Chinese ones don’t do any harm it’s only those dastardly Western ones that do damage.

Bryan A
December 4, 2020 2:21 pm

Another part is missing, the part where Australia isn’t going to be mining Coal any more. Importing your source materials from foreign countries is a sure fire way to increase the end of pipe price

Robert of Texas
December 4, 2020 2:26 pm

Inject into undersea basins? Well at least SOMEONE is thinking this through. This way when the CO2 leaks it is hidden and likely not to create a dome of deadly gas killing thousands.

They could just pump ALL the exhaust down and claim “See? We got that nasty old CO2!” This effectively hides all the exhaust pollution – problem solve-ed.

I wonder if they will have any energy left over to actually produce hydrogen gas?

Peter W
Reply to  Robert of Texas
December 4, 2020 3:27 pm

Given all of the undersea volcanoes and the CO2 they emit, will the ocean be willing to accept all of the additional we would put in it?

Reply to  Peter W
December 4, 2020 7:45 pm

All that and more. Because of the calcium desolved in the ocean acting as a buffer, we could pump all the co2 produced by man AND nature and the oceans wouldn’t even burp.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  pcman999
December 4, 2020 9:05 pm

Actually the more I think about this the smarter the scheme seems…just bubble the exhaust up through enough ocean and a lot of the CO2 gas disappears. I wonder if the ocean would absorb large amounts of nitrous-oxides and certain heavy metal pollutants found in lignite? Just dump the ash down there too. Out of sight, out of mind.

The greenies would love it assuming they accept this as “Green” like they accept solar and wind as “Green”. I mean most of them think they can see and smell the CO2 going up cooling tower stacks (you know, that whitish cloud us skeptics refer to as condensed water).

Reply to  Robert of Texas
December 4, 2020 11:59 pm

I mean most of them think they can see and smell the CO2 going up cooling tower stacks (you know, that whitish cloud us skeptics refer to as condensed water).

That bastion of impartiality, the BBC often use a photo of these stacks billowing steam. Of course, the chimney is always backlit so gullible idiots believe they are seeing pollution.

I’ve complained to the BBC about it. What a waste of time, their excuse is they are just using a stock image – a bit like a child shouting “It wasn’t me!” when caught doing something naughty

michael hart
Reply to  Robert of Texas
December 5, 2020 3:20 pm

Robert of Texas is correct, in that the greenies are more easily fooled by this sort of thing.
It claims CO2 capture in the end, with “clean” hydrogen in the middle to throw them off the scent.

A sensible greenie might ask “So is your process more energy-efficient than just burning the coal to make electricity”.

So congratulations to Kawasaki Heavy Industries et al for trying to pull the wool over their eyes. It’s a shame to have to do this to people who have been consistently lied to. But they have often lied themselves and deserve it in many ways. It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. But war is war, and the greenies started it. Global warming used to be a fun speculation which a few scientists used to play with. Then it became something which wrong and bad people use politically for misguided and nefarious ends.

Reply to  pcman999
December 5, 2020 8:42 am

we could pump all the co2 produced by man AND nature and the oceans wouldn’t even burp.

Why would anyone rational do that to a trace gas that is vital and necessary for life? Why not get rid of oxygen because it can cause fires….

Max P
December 4, 2020 2:27 pm

I wonder if the plan is to claim the plant will need to be expanded in order for it to generate sufficient power to run the carbon capture portion of the operation? Carbon capture is very energy intensive and it would be kind of funny if the power plant couldn’t produce clean hydrogen AND do carbon capture at the same time.

Be even more funny if expanding it to make carbon capture possible made the power requirement for the carbon capture larger than the increased generation capacity.

A somewhat silly musing on my part but no more silly than the proposed purpose of the plant itself.

Max P

Chris Hanley
December 4, 2020 2:32 pm

Why not continue to generate electricity directly from lignite and capture the carbon ‘eventually’⸮.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 4, 2020 3:29 pm

Chris Hanley
December 4, 2020 at 2:32 pm

What a brilliant idea. Especially the ‘eventually’ bit. It’s a mad, mad world these days isn’t it!

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
December 4, 2020 6:56 pm

Yes a brilliant idea. A way to build Victoria a new modern coal fired power plant, & have the greenies actually like it.

When the supply chain for hydrogen breaks down, we will have a new coal fired power plant, to help keep at least some of the lights on in Victoria. These politicians must be smarter than I thought. Having realised that renewables just won’t work, they have found a way to save face & supply power a little longer without, without upsetting their voter base.

Cunning. Pity they don’t use some of that cunning for the good of the electorate.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 4, 2020 5:34 pm

Because the plan isn’t supposed to work. It’s just supposed to funnel lots of money to certain politician’s friends.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 4, 2020 7:49 pm

Use the co2 to make soda…

J Mac
December 4, 2020 2:55 pm

As long as they produce ‘clean CO2’ from the combustion of ‘brown’ coal, what is the problem?

December 4, 2020 2:55 pm

A green energy plan which is so absurd that even Elon Musk calls it “mind-boggling stupid” is somethin that needs to be displayed on the canteen wall!

Rud Istvan
December 4, 2020 2:57 pm

Eric, irrespective of this madness, hydrogen is NOT a solution. I explained at length from many different perspectives in essay ‘Hydrogen Hype’ in late 2014 ebook Blowing Smoke.
BTW, gifted your Jo Nova a personal copy with a note of thanks. Should have done the same for you, except you were less prominent here then than now.

Ian MacCulloch
December 4, 2020 3:08 pm

Auric BioRecovery, LLC has also developed bio-processes for recovering heavy oils from reservoirs and enhancing petroleum production in skin-damaged oil wells. These applications involve the use of “bio- cracking” microorganisms that have the ability to transform high molecular weight petroleum products (heavy oils) into lower molecular weight lighter products. Bio-cracking facilitates the extraction of heavy oils from reservoirs as well as treating skin damage in production wells.

Recent discoveries by Auric have shown that the Pintail Technologies can be used to produce hydrogen from organic substrates such as coal (<24% H2 of the headspace gas profile). This discovery is significant in that hydrogen generation is a high value alternative fuel that may be useful in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Reply to  Ian MacCulloch
December 4, 2020 7:58 pm

Best news I’ve heard all day/week/month… I hope they constantly market it as green hydrogen, as a way of ‘redeeming’ coal, as a way of saving the world, etc., so the green stormtroopers don’t come to destroy things. While I think h2 is a costly, wasteful green showoff fuel that will cause more hard than good, if it can be made from coal cheaper than from fools-green wind and solar power and without the destruction of wildlands that covering acres of land with toxic solar panels and recyclable wind turbines, then h2-from-C will be a good thing.

Reply to  pcman999
December 4, 2020 8:29 pm

Actually meant to say that h2 from coal would be a lesser evil, not actually good

December 4, 2020 3:27 pm

I don’t know why people are knocking this plan. Isn’t that the goal to capture carbon and how can you do that if you don’t produce it? People keep complaining about circular reasoning with the AGW supporters but don’t take the time to understand their thinking.

Reply to  markl
December 4, 2020 6:50 pm


Double bonus, when the hydrogen containment can’t be made to work , and the carbon capture can’t be made to work, the politicians will shrug their shoulders and say, well, the coal powered power generator works just fine, we may as well preserve that value. I mean its already built and everything, why raise taxes to build a wind farm when we have this perfectly fine power plant right here?

That folks, is how you build out coal powered infrastructure with the support of the greens right until that last tiny step…. genius!

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  markl
December 5, 2020 5:52 am

Markl, Was your comment meant to be a joke?

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  markl
December 5, 2020 9:39 am

Isn’t coal mining just capturing all that carbon hiding underground? The greenies should push to mine all known coal reserves.

Peter W
December 4, 2020 3:28 pm

Given all of the undersea volcanoes and the CO2 they emit, will the ocean be willing to accept all of the additional we would put in it?

David Streeter
December 4, 2020 3:45 pm

All these bright ideas need to solve the safety problems of using hydrogen as a fuel before spending large amounts of cash. Otherwise, there will be vast quantities of unplanned urban and suburban renewal events.

December 4, 2020 3:57 pm

Almost as effective as carbon offsets to pander to public perception.

December 4, 2020 4:33 pm

“Yet everyone seems to be taking it seriously.”
Evidence? Who is taking it seriously? You haven’t quoted anyone.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 4, 2020 4:51 pm


They are investing $500m, and you think they are not “taking it serious”

You can’t be serious, Nick-o-bait !

Reply to  fred250
December 4, 2020 5:21 pm

Well, I’m more curious about who are these unnamed “gullible Western clean energy enthusiasts”. But all there is here is some group talking about raising $500 million. Talk is cheap.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 4, 2020 6:43 pm

And being a geriatric troll is an artform

They built the world’s first liquefied hydrogen (carrier search “SUISO FRONTIER”) apparently that was Nick defined cheap talk. Then they built the liquefaction plant at Port Hastings apparently that was Nick defined cheap talk. Then they built the unloading facility at Kobe airport which is apparently Nick defined cheap talk.

Like all Nick definitions they bear little resemblance to reality.

Reply to  LdB
December 4, 2020 6:59 pm

These are deeds. Talk is cheap.

Bryan A
Reply to  LdB
December 4, 2020 8:40 pm

That’s why it’s referred to as “Putting in Your 2¢ worth”
And that’s my 2¢ worth

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 4, 2020 9:03 pm

” Talk is cheap.”

Yep, but its all you have Nick-o-bait.

Joining Biden in the dementia queue soon. .

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 4, 2020 9:13 pm

Poor Nick-o-bait

” In 2016, Kawasaki Heavy, Iwatani, Shell Japan and J-Power established a CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-Chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA). The companies transferred the HESC demonstration project to HySTRA.

To date, the HESC project team has completed the Front End Engineering and Design work. Construction of the pilot facility in Australia is expected to commence in early 2019, following planning approvals.

Not serious at all, hey..

Go back to your afternoon nap,.

Next time try not to comment until you take the correct tablets.

Reply to  fred250
December 5, 2020 11:02 am

“Not serious at all, hey..

Go back to your afternoon nap,.”

Too many links, links to links, to drill down thru. As usual. “Nearly 1 billion” might have actually been spent so far, but darned if I can find it. So, would you please set me straight and point to any concrete spend (not “budgeted”, not “proposed”) of any more than that required for a front end engineering design for the pilot?

Thanks in advance…

Talk is indeed cheap, as are gee whiz press releases.

Reply to  fred250
December 5, 2020 9:58 pm

Yep, your talk is always cheap.. and meaningless .

Poor big oily blob !!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 4, 2020 6:47 pm

Nick is is trolling you have to ask him for his definition of serious which will be a Nickism.

A company having spent close to one billion dollars and committing to spending another 10 billion is not serious under his definition.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 4, 2020 7:06 pm

“Really Nick?”
The link is just a general talk from our conservative government about use of hydrogen. It is in no way an advocacy of this lignite plan. What is the basis for “everyone is taking it seriously”? Who are the gullible greenies?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 4, 2020 9:10 pm

Ah the good old Stokes lets redefine … the fact there are contracts and agreements and grants is not serious. Got it … should make for an interesting in future discussions about stupid greentard plans.

Reply to  LdB
December 4, 2020 9:23 pm

I love how Nick-o-bait can ALWAYS be relied upon to double down on his own stupid comments….. Great slop-stick comedy.

Poor old fella, got left behind ages ago.

Now only ranked as a very low-level trollette.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 4, 2020 9:19 pm

Gullible greenies….. non-evironMENTALists

People like YOU that think hydrogen, wind and solar can EVER be dispatchable energy supply.

Who worship the AGW scammers and their CO2 hatred, yet still want to partake in all the benefits.

Human HATING activists like “Friends of the Earth” causing more real pollution and environmental damage than CO2 has ever done or could ever do.

Are you a member of one of those anti-environmental activist cults, Nick-o-bait?

December 4, 2020 4:34 pm

Since the topic is hydrogen this announcement is kinda small potatoes compared to China’s announcement that they just started up the world’s first fusion reactor.

Interested Observer
Reply to  davidgmillsatty
December 4, 2020 5:04 pm

How long before we hear that China’s new “sun” has gone supernova?

Oh, that’s right. We won’t hear about it because, the communists will just lie about it. The same way they’ve lied about the virus from the start.

It’s a pity this thing wasn’t built under Communist Party Headquarters; it would be doing the whole world a favour when it blows up due to shoddy manufacturing and Chinese-standard quality control.

Reply to  Interested Observer
December 4, 2020 7:46 pm

I guess you haven’t heard that Italy has discovered it was in patients before it was first discovered in

Interested Observer
Reply to  davidgmillsatty
December 5, 2020 6:14 am

Er… no. The linked article does not prove your assertion.

The phrase “…before the first official reports from the Chinese authorities…” tells me that the Communists were lying about it long before it got so out of control that they couldn’t hide it any more. The conclusions of the authors do not mean the virus was in Italy before it was in China; they just mean the virus had made its way to Italy earlier than first thought.

Reply to  Interested Observer
December 5, 2020 7:32 am

Sure thing. Until the Chinese or someone else comes up with some data to support your biased hypothesis, then that is all you have: a biased unproven hypothesis.

Reply to  Interested Observer
December 4, 2020 8:58 pm

As for shoddy Chinese manufacturing. Just because our corporations buy the cheapest crap the Chinese can make to sell to us, that does not mean that the Chinese aren’t capable of making far better stuff. They have the world’s fastest computer now. They are quickly catching us in aerospace. They consistently score higher on IQ tests than we do and they have a population four times ours. They have more geniuses than we do. The Chinese are kicking everybody’s ass when it comes to published peer reviewed articles. It seems like a majority of every scientific article I read is loaded with Chinese names.

You seriously sell them short.

Reply to  davidgmillsatty
December 4, 2020 7:40 pm

First fusion reactor, I don’t know if you are that gullible, or just that eager to promote your paymasters.

Reply to  MarkW
December 4, 2020 9:04 pm

Do your have a non-snarky comment to discuss? You don’t think they did it or your don’t think it was the first?

Reply to  davidgmillsatty
December 4, 2020 9:08 pm

How is the world’s first fusion reactor? It’s certainly not the world’s first fusion testbed, and it doesn’t produce more power than it uses, which would be a significant first. The world is being strung along a wild goose chase. D-T fusion requires radioactive and toxic Tritium at $30000 per gram (Ontario Hydro with it’s heavy water reactors will make a mint) and produces lots of high energy neutrons that are difficult to turn into heat and will irradiate the plant in short order. Fusion with Helium3 will be much safer, but apparently it’s only available on the moon (Elon Musk or the Chinese will make a mint). On the other hand Thorium reactors will get their fuel from dirt and mining waste from rare earth mines. Nuclear waste that’s only ‘hot’ for 300 years instead of 10000 years. And China and other countries are already working on them so don’t waste any breath on fusion or pine away for the first proper fusion power plant in your lifetime. Fusion is a make-grant project.

Reply to  PCman999
December 5, 2020 1:27 am
Patrick MJD
Reply to  griff
December 5, 2020 1:59 pm

I wonder what climate crisis they are talking about. Fusion will always be 20 years away, they consume more energy than they produce and the reaction is not self-sustaining.

Reply to  PCman999
December 5, 2020 7:29 am

As far as I know, I was the first person on this board in 2011 to post Thorium Remix 2011 or anything else related to molten salt thorium reactors. I am a strong proponent of molten salt thorium reactors. I keep up with all the progress around the world on it as best I can. But if the Chinese have figured out nuclear fusion, I doubt thorium will have much of a chance against it. Which was really the reason for my post.

Reply to  PCman999
December 5, 2020 7:39 am

This is the language from the article;

“Beijing has successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, China’s People’s Daily reported on Friday.”

It does not say testbed. I am aware there are many of those. It says reactor.

Reply to  davidgmillsatty
December 6, 2020 4:54 pm

“It does not say testbed”

It does say “the HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device.” In other words, it isn’t China’s first. Isn’t ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) a testbed?

December 4, 2020 4:36 pm

Does anybody know if the Bass Strait oilfields have been subjected to EOR (enhanced oil recovery) by pumping CO2 down to drive petroleums and water out?
I have no idea what platforms are still in place.
Just so long as the proponents of this scheme keep their hands off taxpayers wallets.

December 4, 2020 4:43 pm

They plan to save the planet by using twice the amount of coal for the same output of usable energy. In this case I agree with Elon Musk “mind-boggling stupid”. Hydrogen production, transport, storage & utilisation in transport is uneconomical. Using Hydrogen for “green” smelters is still questionable.

Reply to  tygrus
December 4, 2020 8:20 pm

Hydrogen is all the rage because the green nazis have realized wind and solar will never work without a way of storing surplus power, and batteries are embarassingly un-green.

Reply to  pcman999
December 4, 2020 9:24 pm


December 4, 2020 5:15 pm

Nothing will come of it.
Brown Coal Liquefaction Victoria (BCLV) at Morwell 1980s had a better business case . . .

December 4, 2020 5:43 pm

All this stupidity based on the “Greenhouse Effect” fairy tale. What a waste of human endeavour – so sad.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  RickWill
December 4, 2020 6:08 pm

Many humans are stupid. Today, I was told by someone that driving an old XC Falcon car without aircon in northern Queensland in summer gets hot because of climate change.

December 4, 2020 7:46 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Hazelwood been blown up ?

Reply to  Martin Clark
December 4, 2020 9:50 pm

The plant was auctioned.

December 5, 2020 1:26 am

mind bogglingly stupid.

Thomas Gasloli
December 5, 2020 5:56 am

Why don’t the Aussis make the Japanese build the plant in their own country and just ship them the coal. Under Paris Accords the Aussi will end up with the CO2 emissions demerit while the Japanese will get the Climate Credit for using Hydrogen. The Aussis are being scammed.

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