Synfuels project shelved

Collie Synfuels managing director Costa Tsesmelis with Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray at Parliament House last year. Photo: supplied.
Collie Synfuels managing director Costa Tsesmelis with Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray at Parliament House last year. Photo: supplied.

Despite four years of development, Collie Synfuel has had to mothball its ambitious plan to use local coal to make premium hydrogen and synthetic diesel.

Collie Synfuels board made the decision to shelve its flagship Collie Synfuels South West Sequestration Project after it became clear during 2019 that the current government did not support the plan.

In its long delayed December 2019 newsletter, the company explained the final blow to the project came in August when the WA Renewable H2 Strategy was published.

"The WA Green Only H2 exports policy is in stark contract to commonwealth and the requirement of our trading partners in Asia-pacific who accept Blue H2 made from fossil fuels and CCS as clean H2," the newsletter read.

"Investors from India and South Africa have been advised there is no point in visiting Australia to discuss investing in Coal-Value-Add and CO2 storage, until such time when commonwealth and state policies align."

Green H2 or "clean hydrogen" is produced by a renewable source, while Blue H2 is obtained from either natural gas or industrial residual gases by splitting them into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

In 2019, the organisation received $50,000 in funding from the Collie Futures Small Grants program to undertake two feasibility studies looking at how the carbon capture and storage linked project could see commercial quantities of premium hydrogen transported to the WA market to power hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

At the time Member for Collie-Preston Mick Murray said he was hopeful for the project in diversifying the local economy.

Despite the set back, managing director Costa Tsesmelis said he was hopeful the state government would change its policy and support 'coal-value-adding'.

"This would enable our overseas investors to visit Perth, to meet with Government officials to discuss due process for CO2 injection permits, Social-License-to-Operate and infrastructure requirements, before progressing the private investments they would like to make to commercialise the SW Hub CO2 storage and Collie Flagship projects."

The project was presented at the MIT Advanced Energy Symposium in Boston in May 2019 where it showed it was feasible from a technical, safety and economic perspective.

If given support, Mr Tsesmelis said the Collie Flagship project could quickly move to construction within two years.