The role of Australia’s various electricity grids is to deliver safe, environmentally acceptable and reliable power, at an acceptable cost. No single technology can supply our energy needs. Proving a sound economic foundation for carbon capture and storage is essential to its widespread deployment.
Both the supply and the demand side of Australia’s electricity sector are undergoing significant transformation. Australia has a broad range of new technologies that can supply our future electricity generation needs, ranging from low- to zero-emissions fossil-fuel generators through to the use of CCS and to utility-scale renewable generation.
Transforming Australian electricity grids is not simply a matter of choosing one technology and using it to replace our entire existing supply. As with our current grid, we need combinations of technologies that can allow supply to match demand or shift demand to times when it can be met.
In 2015, CO2CRC produced the Australian Power Generation Technology Report. The report provides an unbiased, technology-neutral review of a broad range of generation technologies, their capabilities and their costs for 2015 and out to 2030. Rather than making predictions about which generation sources will contribute to Australian electricity grids in the future, it instead provides the information needed to understand what they could look like and how much they might cost.
Using a black coal power plant retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be cheaper per megawatt hour than with solar PV a new study by CO2CRC and Gamma Energy Technology has found. The report, Retrofitting CCS to Coal: Enhancing Australia’s Energy Security, analyses the options for retrofitting brown and black coal fired power stations in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The adjunct report to the Australian Power Generation Technology report of 2015, found the levelised cost of electricity on a black coal power plant retrofit with CCS to be $103 to $154MWh, with utility 1 PV axis tracking at a range of $95 to $121MWh. A brown coal plant with CCS is cost-competitive at $122 – $164MWh.
The report shows the conservative cost of retrofitting in Australia is $2.45b for a single 500MWe boiler to as little as $1.48b. CCS retrofit is suitable for some coal plants and regions but not all.
Gas power plants are being looked at as a lower carbon emission power generation alternative to coal power plants. The capital cost for post combustion capture (PCC) retrofit for natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plants is significantly lower than the corresponding amount of solar PV. Retrofitting a 250 megawatts (MW) NGCC plant with CCS would achieve 193 MW of low carbon electricity and cost $0.34 billion. This would power approximately 190,000 households per annum and would be equivalent to the output of 480 MW of solar PV installed capacity at cost of $1.01 billion. CO2CRC have produced the report: Retrofitting Australian Gas Power Plants with Post Combustion Capture