Austral unveils $8 million green plan for Tahmoor

THE Tahmoor underground coal mine near Picton in New South Wales will soon be capturing methane gas for feeding to a methane generator for conversion into electricity.

Staff Reporter

Rather than exhausting the methane gas drained from coal seams prior to mining, Tahmoor will feed the gas to a $8 million state of the art methane generator, owned and operated by Envirogen. The methane gas will then be converted to carbon dioxide and electric power is generated.

The electricity generated will be purchased by Great Southern Energy (GSE), a state-owned retailer supplying energy to the national market. The electricity will find its way back to Tahmoor, which will purchase power from GSE at discounted rates. Any excess power generated will go onto the electricity grid.

The commissioning of the power station will reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions by about 66% (measured in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent). Any value attributed to greenhouse credits resulting from the plant would be shared equally between the three parties.

Over the life of the mine, it is estimated the project will benefit owner Austral Coal $6 million to $8 million. Energy from the new generator will reduce greenhouse gases twofold. The plant will use waste methane gas released during mining from the colliery to power five 1 megawatt generators. As a green alternative this will replace tonnes of coal that would normally be consumed for the same amount of supply.

Secondly, because methane has 21 times the “greenhouse” effect of carbon dioxide, utilising the methane as a fuel will significantly reduce the greenhouse gas impact.

The new generator will become the main power supply to the mine with construction of the plant complete and commissioning underway. The average annual electricity production of 40GWh per annum equates to an annual savings of 106,000 tonnes of CO2 emission.

“The project is a win-win for all parties involved through an improved environment and will help keep Australian export competitive with the rest of the world,” said Austral managing director, Ugo Cario.

NSW Minister for Energy, Kim Yeadon, congratulated each of the partners saying the project set important business and environmental benchmarks for other sites across the country.