Clean coal has proved a mirage for Queensland. The state government has give up its pursuit after sinking over $150 million in the project.
The government led by Premier Anna Bligh is turning over the ZeroGen plant to the Australian Coal Association, scrapping its planned $4.3 billion clean coal power station in central Queensland..
AdvertisementThe Australian federal government has attacked the decision as it had invested $47.5 million towards a pre-feasibility study for the now-aborted plant.
A report by Auditor-General Glenn Poole in September issued a damning assessment of ZeroGen's future. Mr Poole wrote that its reliance on the state and ability to attract other funding was a concern beyond November 30 this year.
"These conditions . . . indicate the existence of material uncertainty which may cast doubt about the company's ability to continue," he wrote.
The Department of Economic Development wrote down $96.3 million of equity in ZeroGen as a loss in its recent annual report.
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he was "disappointed" the state was walking away from the project.
"The Queensland Government cannot have its cake and eat it too, profiting from exports while being unwilling to invest in the R&D necessary to reduce emissions," he said.
The plant, creating 2000 construction jobs, involved carbon-capture storage technology, taking CO2 emissions and burying them west of Rockhampton.
Still Queensland premier Anna Bligh hopes to one-day sell the intellectual property rights to cleaner coal despite $192 million in research failing to find the answer.
She told AAP, that building the carbon capture facility by 2015, as first proposed, was not commercially viable, but rejected suggestions that she had further wasted Queensland taxpayer money on another failed project.
"There is nothing unusual in this," Ms Bligh she said.
"We're leading the world in this. No one in the world has done a feasibility study on carbon capture.
"We have advanced ... we understand totally better ... that is the nature of research.
"I absolutely reject (that) this research was a waste of money.
"The intellectual property is not at a commercially tradeable stage, but it will lead to opportunities in its own right."
Ms Bligh said Queensland possessed 300 years of coal energy supplies and it was imperative for the government to find a cleaner way to use the natural resource.
She said the Queensland government has committed another $50 million - and the industry and Commonwealth government have more than $100 million - over the next three years into developing a carbon capture storage facility.
However, it's a guess as to how long it will take to develop one.
"Our first goal is identifying everything we can to make coal a viable energy for the world," Ms Bligh said.
"We might find the answer in three months, it may take six years.
"Expenditure by ZeroGen to date has yielded a wealth of information about capture technology, power station construction and carbon storage."
The State Government has come under fire recently for wasting taxpayers money following the shutdown of water treatment and desalination plants.
Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek has called for an inquiry into the failure of the ZeroGen clean coal project.
He said the Labor Government was further example of poor Government planning.
"This is just another costly bungle by this long-term Labor Government, Mr Langbroek said in a statement.
"This project was supposed to make Queensland the world leader in clean coal technology
"Instead we have seen $100 million wasted on ZeroGen, including $40 million spent after the government was advised to withdraw from the project by a review which described the venture as speculative.
"This government continues to throw away hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds while pushing the cost of this waste back onto Queenslanders already struggling with the rising cost of living."