Snowy Hydro, the proponent of the Federal Government's proposed $600 million gas-fired power plant at Kurri Kurri, insists the project is needed in the face of mounting community and organisational opposition.
Many of the submissions argued that the 1000 megawatt generator was not needed, raised objections to the use of fossil fuel rather than renewable energy and the project's greenhouse gas emissions.
It coincides with an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that urgent action is needed to greenhouse emissions to prevent 1.5C of warming by early next decade.
In its summary response, Snowy Hydro argued the project was needed to ensure reliability of energy supply following the closure of Liddell power station in 2023.
"The primary function of the proposal is to firm variable renewable energy (solar and wind in particular) through the provision of dispatchable electricity, and is therefore a key component in the transition of the National Energy Market to a low carbon system within which the majority of electricity is provided by renewable energy," Snowy Hydro said.
"The proposal provides flexible and longer duration firming capacity than other available technologies, such as grid-scale batteries, which currently have limited energy capability."
NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes, who declared the project a piece of state significant infrastructure, has the final approval authority for the proposal.
More than 30,000 people have signed petitions opposing the plant's construction since May.
Gas Free Hunter Community Alliance coordinator Carly Phillips said the community groups were relying on the Minister Stokes and NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean to reject the project and increase investment in renewable energy.
"It's gob-smacking for Snowy Hydro to pretend that building a gas plant is consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement and to release their response on the same day as the devastating United Nations climate report," she said.
Janet Murray from Coalfields for Climate Action said the future of Kurri Kurri was dependent on the growth of significant employment within the Hydro development zone.
"If we want the Hydro industrial area to survive and thrive into the future, the focus needs to be on industries powered by renewable energy like wind and solar, and jobs of the future, not the past." she said
Introducing hydrogen into the fuel mix
The turbines being considered for the Kurri gas plant have the potential to operate with a 30 per cent hydrogen blend, new technical details about the project reveal.
Titled "project clarification", the chapter of the submissions report says the current proposal has been designed to accept a 10 per cent mix of hydrogen with gas, with the potential to be upgraded.
"The 10 per cent is premised on the expected capability of the Jemena Gas Networks Northern Trunk transmission pipeline to store and transport the hydrogen and gas blend, this being the transmission pipeline from which the gas lateral to the proposal would connect into and draw gas, and the gas/hydrogen specification for the transmission pipeline," the report says.
"If the gas network specification increased to 15 per cent hydrogen, we expect that the power station will be capable of accepting this mix."
However, this could be increased to 30 per cent if other technical changes were made to equipment such as the gas burners, fuel supply valves and gas lateral piping.
"Changes to the gas lateral design to achieve performance over and above this capability would be significant and may prove to be uneconomic," the report said.
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