The Western Australian Government has announced a $12.7 million investment package in new low emission energy projects in Perth, the Mid-West and the Wheatbelt.


State Environment Minister Bill Marmion and Energy Minister Peter Collier announced in-principle funding for the Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) Fund for Curtin University; Morton Seed and Grain; Biogass Renewables; Green Rock Energy Ltd; Solastor, in consortium with Carbon Reduction Ventures; and The University of Western Australia (UWA).


“The funding is subject to these companies matching every $1 of Government funds with at least $3 from elsewhere, which will lead to a direct total investment of more than $50 million in low emissions technology in WA,” Mr Marmion said. 


Curtin University is developing technology to simultaneously char and grind biomass so it can be efficiently burned with coal in existing coal generation infrastructure. Grinding the biomass as it is charred uses less energy and the resultant ground biomass is more compatible with coal burning power plants.


Morton Seed and Grain’s proposal is a biomass project in the Wheatbelt using oat husks as fuel for cogeneration of electricity and heat.


Biogass Renewables is developing a commercial-scale anaerobic digester plant to convert solid waste to biogas for electricity generation and compost in thermally insulated tanks. 


Green Rock Energy Ltd is developing a geothermal electricity generation plant in the Mid-West near Dongara, and Solastor, in consortium with Carbon Reduction Ventures, plans to spend $3.775million to build a 1.5 megawatt grid-connected concentrated thermal power station incorporating heat storage technology near Morawa.


UWA has received $356,000 to undertake research into recapturing methane from liquefied natural gas vents.  Nitrogen is vented as part of LNG production, however this contains a proportion of methane which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas.  Capturing this methane economically could provide a significant source of abatement.  UWA will also receive $493,000 to evaluate the pumping of carbon dioxide (CO2) underground to enhance natural gas recovery.  Enhanced gas recovery would use injected (and therefore sequestered) CO2 to increase natural gas production and deliver CO2 sequestration.


“The Government’s investment gives the companies and universities a platform to explore the benefits of technology to use biomass in coal power generation, energy cogeneration from agricultural waste products, generation of electricity and compost from commercial waste and geothermal power to improve energy security,” Mr Collier said.


“If these projects lead to commercial-scale developments in the future, they have the potential to save millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions a year.”