The role of carbon capture and storage in a low-emissions future

If Australia is to meet its emissions reduction targets and avoid economic disruption, it is essential to maintain electricity supply reliability and affordability while reducing emissions.

Coal-fired power plants can supply reliable, low-cost energy, however their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions need to be reduced.

The use of safe, proven, reliable carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can support cost-effective, reliable and cleaner energy.

CO2 is emitted when fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are used. CCS is a process used to prevent these CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

CCS captures CO2 at a power station or industrial facility such as a steel, LNG or cement plant and stores it safely and permanently in deep underground geological structures, or by other physical, chemical or biological means.

CCS also mimics natural processes where gases, including CO2, have been trapped in deep geological structures for millions of years.

Coal plants with CCS can achieve very deep decarbonisation of the electricity grid, reducing emissions while maintaining grid security and stability.

Research shows that replacing ageing coal-fired power stations with new flexible high-efficiency, low emissions (HELE) plants integrated with carbon capture and storage could reduce emissions by around 90 per cent.

HELE plants have significantly higher efficiency than older coal-fired power stations due to the use of supercritical technology, which refers to the very high temperature and pressure of the steam generated in the power station boiler.

HELE technology is integral to the further adoption of CCS because such plants reduce the quantity of CO2 to be captured, transported and stored. This means that higher-efficiency plants require smaller capacity CCS units, resulting in reduced capital costs.

Such an approach – which could be combined with renewable energies like wind, solar and hydro power as part of a long-term plan – would deliver secure and reliable electricity supplies at affordable prices while meeting Australia’s emissions reduction targets.

New plant is increasingly being built to be CCS ready. CCS is recognised by the United Nations, International Energy Agency (IEA) and many countries as a crucial technology for both energy security and emissions reduction over this century.


Read the International Energy Agency’s 20 years of Carbon capture and storage:
Accelerating future deployment

Visit the Global CCS Institute website

Watch a video explaining CCS

Check out these websites to find out more

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COAL21 invests in the development of low-emissions technologies for the coal-fired power generation sector and in emissions reduction from coal mines.

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MCA represents Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry, nationally and internationally, in its contribution to sustainable development and society.

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