CANBERRA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Australia's taxpayer-financed "green energy fund" could be used to pay for "clean coal" power stations under controversial changes flagged by the nation's federal government on Monday.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg revealed that the government is considering whether or not to allow funds from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to be used in developing "carbon capture and storage technology", a by-product from "clean coal" power plants.
Currently, the 7.7 billion U.S. dollar CEFC is banned from funding nuclear power and carbon capture and storage, but the government wants to change the law to allow carbon storage, which would involve capturing carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere. It is then buried underground in order to reduce emissions.
"We're going to look at all our options because of the challenges that we face, namely to ensure energy security (and) energy affordability, as we transition to a low-emissions future," Frydenberg said in comments published on Monday.
"If you can lower emissions and stabilize the system with baseload power, that's a pretty good outcome for Australian households."
However, the plan has received criticism from political opponents. Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler said the Labor opposition would block any legislation changes that involve the "vandalism" of the CEFC.
"This would be an outrageous act of vandalism against a successful financing mechanism for renewable energy, for energy efficiency projects and for genuine low-carbon technology," Butler said.
Meanwhile, South Australia's Labor Premier Jay Weatherill said the prime minister was manipulating the law to suit the Liberal government's agenda.
"When 'clean' has its meaning expanded to include 'coal' you realize how busted national electricity policy truly is," Weatherill said.
Frydenberg brushed off the criticisms, saying "It's called the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not the 'renewable energy corporation'."