It’s good technology but sorry
Wednesday 24 August 2016
The Queensland Chief Scientist has acknowledged the unique technological achievements of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) company Carbon Energy and has echoed comments that UCG will “undoubtedly” be a big part of the world's energy sources in the future.
In a written letter to Carbon Energy, chief scientist Dr Geoff Barrett has officially confirmed that the approach proposed by Carbon Energy to safely decommission and rehabilitate UCG sites was accepted as safe by an Independent Scientific Panel set up to decide which UCG projects could move forward in Queensland.
While the acknowledgement is some return on the company's investment in developing its UCG technologies, it does not change their commercial outlook following the Palaszczuk government's shock decision in April to ban UCG in Queensland.
Carbon Energy was originally spun out of Australia’s biggest science organisation the CSIRO, with many of its lead technical people previously recognised scientists working for the government. However, the decision was a complete surprise to the management and left them almost futureless overnight.
In receiving the acknowledgement, Chairman Dr Chris Rawlings said it would help them use the technology overseas.
“Dr Garrett’s letter clearly acknowledges Carbon Energy as the only company to successfully complete any of the ISP’s recommendations and also notes our keyseam technology as being different from any other,” he said.
“While this acknowledgement does not reverse the decision to operate UCG in the State....it lays the path to assist other nations, such as China, recognise that keyseam has been rigorously tested under the highest standards, using robust science-based controls.”
Among the options being explored by the company to remain in business, are setting up another trial site in China in a joint venture with the Chinese government, licensing its technology to a company trying to do something similar in Indonesia, and the possibility of converting their Queensland Bloodwood Creek UCG site to a solar energy project in partnership with Photon Energy.
However, neither of those projects are likely if it can’t solve the most pressing problem of refinancing a $10 million loan set to mature early next year.
Carbon Energy’s share price has fallen from $0.25 a share in 2011 to $0.01 today.
Despites its promise as a cost effective way to exploit the world's vast stranded coal seams which are too deep to mine conventionally, the technologies development has been plagued by concerns about the environmental dangers of the process.The now defunct Linc Energy is currently being pursued by the state government over claims by government that they were negligent in letting dangerous chemicals leak into the surrounding aquifers.
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