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Carbon is not a dirty word, especially in Central
Queensland. While debate about climate
change and carbon emissions has led to calls
for a switch to green energy sources such as
solar, wind, geothermal and wave power, coal remains
the lifeline of the region, courtesy of the Bowen Basin. It
boasts more than 30 mines stretching from Collinsville
in the north to eodore in the south, and about 100
million tonnes of coal is extracted from the area each
year to supply domestic and export markets.
News that businessman Clive Palmer will launch a
new mine near Alpha to source Chinese coal requirements
suggests Queensland's love a air with the 'black gold'
will continue. e challenge is to embrace clean coal
technologies and cut carbon emissions while still
generating jobs and stimulating economic growth.
CQUniversity researchers are central to that balancing
act as they engage in diverse fields such as workforce
safety, carbon sequestration and water management.
John Rolfe, Professor in Regional Development
Economics at CQUniversity, is confident clean coal
initiatives have an environmental and economic role
to play and says opposition to such technologies is "all
ideological". He war ns that any moves to shift away from
a reliance on coal for energy supplies will hurt the region.
"Central Queensland is almost the canary in Australia
for greenhouse emission policy because we have the
confluence of both major coal mining at the Bowen
Basin, major industrial developments at Gladstone
and then a very la rge agricultural industry that could
potentially be a ected as well."
While he notes Federal Gover nment arguments that
the growth of green power industries could compensate
for potential economic and employment losses in the
mining sector, he says that provides little comfort
for Central Queensland. "In this area we'll probably
generate most of the losses and the growth will occur
more in southern Australia."
at raises the stakes for clean coal and other
technologies that reduce carbon emissions. Carbon
sequestration -- whereby carbon dioxide is captured and
stored in forests, soils or oceans -- is shaping up as an
important solution. "It's the desirable option because it
does allow us to keep the development going and keep our
energy costs fairly low," Rolfe says.
Some early trials are testing the e ectiveness of
carbon capture, including ZeroGen, a government-
supported company located near Sta nwell Corporation's
Rockhampton Power Station. A similar trial is underway
at the Callide Power Station near Biloela.
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