May 22, 2020

Roadmap shines spotlight on carbon capture potential

Roadmap shines spotlight on carbon capture potential

Carbon capture and storage was a hot topic this week, with the release of the Federal Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper.

CO2CRC chief executive David Byers hailed the paper as a powerful endorsement of the potential for carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) to play a vital role in meeting the challenge of supplying more energy with fewer emissions.

“Recent project activity demonstrates to the nation that CCUS is not a dream for the future but a reality today,” Mr Byers said.

CO2CRC chief executive David Byers.

“The world’s largest commercial-scale carbon dioxide injection project commenced in August 2019 at Gorgon LNG on Barrow Island, off the northwest coast of WA. Gorgon is now progressively ramping up to full capacity of up to 4Mtpa of safe and permanent storage of CO2. “

Among the major CCUS projects on the table is a proposal for a $150 million carbon capture plant at the Millmerran Power Station in Queensland’s Surat Basin.

It has the backing of COAL21, a $550 million low-emission technology fund established by the Australian black coal industry.

COAL21 chief executive officer Mark McCallum believes the Technology Investment Roadmap will complement the King Review recommendations released earlier this month and provide a workable framework within which significant advances could be made to both reduce emissions and enable new industries.

“I’m pleased to see that one of the areas the roadmap is focused on is technologies that will continue to supply affordable and reliable energy while also reducing emissions,” Mr McCallum said.

“Australia has been a leader in the development of low emission technologies and was first to capture CO2 from coal power stations.”

Major gas player Santos has also welcomed the Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper, saying it recognised the crucial role that natural gas and carbon capture and storage would play as Australia rebounds from COVID-19.

Gas part of a lower-carbon future – Santos

Santos managing director and chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher said the discussion paper built on the international recognition that gas is the natural partner for renewables in a lower carbon future.

“We need gas to be competitively-priced for power generation and manufacturing, and the best way to put downward pressure on prices is to invest in more supply and more competition.  That investment will only happen in an open, transparent market environment,” Mr Gallagher said.

“The roadmap highlights that emissions reduction and job-creating resource development go hand-in-hand.

“Australia needs low-cost, large-scale abatement to maintain our position as a leading energy exporter and manufacturer of energy-intensive materials such as steel and cement, as well as to enable new industries such as hydrogen.

“The discussion paper highlights the role of carbon capture and storage. Developing projects such as Santos’ Moomba CCS proposal will provide the fastest route to a hydrogen-fuelled economy, decarbonising energy at its source.”

But environmental groups including Greepeace have been highly critical of the directions in the discussion paper.

“This plan won’t make the emissions cuts we need to tackle the climate crisis,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific spokesperson Elizabeth Sullivan said.

“This roadmap relies on gas, a highly polluting fossil fuel. Gas is a major cause of the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

“Australia has a pivotal opportunity to put renewable energy at the centre of economic recovery plans and support diverse, future-facing industries which will reduce our emissions, grow jobs and support climate action, as recommended by everyone from the International Energy Agency to the Big Four banks.

“It’s concerning that just days after the Coalition signalled its intention to gift more taxpayer money to coal barons for the carbon capture and storage pipe dream, they have laid out a plan to keep Australia running on the dirty power sources of the past rather than adopt the clean and reliable technologies that will lead us to a zero-carbon future.

“This is a historic opportunity to build back better and re-engineer our economy with clean, modern technology, creating sustainable jobs and protecting Australians from the worsening impacts of climate change.”