Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the only technology able to significantly reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuels, including in power generation. It involves capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large emission sources, compressing it, transporting it to a suitable storage site, and injecting it into deep geological formations where it will be safely and permanently stored.
Importantly, CCS is not just a coal technology. It can be applied to gas-fired power generation, natural gas processing associated with LNG production and other industrial activities such as cement and steel manufacturing.
Source - CO2CRC
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that CCS applied to power generation and industrial processes could account for almost 20% of emission reductions needed by 2050 to stabilise atmospheric CO2 to 450 ppm (parts per million). Without CCS, the IEA found that the cost of halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 could be 70% higher.
CCS is already a reality in many parts of the world. Natural gas and LNG projects such as Sleipner (Norway) and In Salah (Algeria) have been injecting more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year into saline aquifers. Nearly 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year is also used in North America to enhance the recovery from oil fields. The Gorgon LNG Project in Western Australia will soon be one of the largest storage projects in the world, storing over 3 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
The Global CCS Institute estimates there are currently 234 CCS projects at various stages of development globally, with over US$40 billion in funding commitments by governments.
CCS in Australia
Australia has a strategic interest in the development and deployment of CCS. As the world’s largest exporter of coal, a major exporter of LNG and being reliant on fossil fuels for over 93% of our electricity, successful deployment of CCS will allow Australia to continue to enjoy its comparative advantages as a resources rich economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The importance of CCS to Australia’s energy mix was acknowledged with the release of the Government’s Clean Energy Future plan. According to the ROAM and SKM modelling undertaken for the Treasury, CCS could account for around 30% of our electricity mix by 2050 – more than any other individual low emission technology.
There are several CCS projects at various stages of development around Australia. These projects are contributing to a concerted global effort to deploy this key technology.
As with all emerging technologies, the development pathway for CCS is complex and challenging and not all projects under consideration or in early stages of development will proceed to completion. The cancellation or postponement of some CCS demonstration projects in Australia and around the world is not unexpected, particularly given global economic uncertainties, and should not be taken to reflect a failure of the technology itself.