KEPCO’s open-cut coal mine proposal for the NSW Bylong Valley was knocked back three times, but to the surprise of local farmers, it is now exploring a hydrogen opportunity.

Key points:

  • KEPCO is considering building a hydrogen project in the Bylong Valley
  • An open-cut coal mine was rejected three times
  • An analyst says a blue hydrogen project would be the most likely option

The company, which is majority-owned by the South Korean government, proposed to develop an open-cut coal mine in the Valley.

That was rejected by the Independent Planning Commission in 2019, and twice by appeals courts

A company spokesperson said “KEPCO is considering various post-appeal options including a possible hydrogen opportunity at Bylong”.

“We are unable to provide any further comments at this stage.”

Local farmer and president of the Bylong Valley Projection Alliance Phillip Kennedy said he was “shocked” at the proposal.

“It has got some of the best soils in NSW and Australia, it’s in the top three per cent,” he said.

A man takes a selfie in front of a herd of cows

Mr Kennedy says the first he knew of the hydrogen proposal was from media reports.(

Supplied: Phillip Kennedy

)

Blue hydrogen likely, analyst says

KEPCO holds a coal exploration license over 6,685 hectares of land in the valley. 

Analyst with the progressive think-tank the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Bruce Robertson said given the region’s remoteness, blue hydrogen would be the most likely option.

“There’s really no reason to put a hydrogen plant in the Bylong Valley, it’s a long way from electricity and gas services unless they produce the gas there themselves,” he said.

Anti coal mining sign in the Bylong valley, in an open paddock with gum tree nearby .

Planning authorities refused a coal mine in the valley citing “long-lasting environmental, agricultural and heritage impacts”.(

ABC News: Liv Casben

)

Mr Robertson said making blue hydrogen is more emissions-intensive than gas.

“Gas is already a highly-polluting fuel and then you’re adding another step in the production process.”

Local farmer staunchly opposed

Bylong Valley Protection Alliance president Phillip Kennedy said the valley was not “the right place” for gas drilling.

“They’ve got a lot of investment here in the Bylong Valley over the last 10 years in the community, so they may find it hard to talk away from it.”

He said the possibility of jobs and investment would not justify the project.

“I’ve got enough work to do, I don’t need another job.”

Posted , updated 

KEPCO shocks local farmers with hydrogen plan for Bylong Valley after coal mine knock backs
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