New carbon storage potential

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been touted as one way society can deal with carbon pollution and global warming and secure an energy supply, which could help to stabilise rising electricity prices.

CCS is also known as carbon dioxide geosequestration.  This is a way of reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere through capturing carbon dioxide from the source of emissions, for instance from a power station, industrial facility or natural gas productions. The carbon is taken and injected deep underground as a fluid into rocks and geological formations so that it can't pollute the atmosphere.

The government has recognised the potential of this technology, and is putting resources into more research on CCS and greater implementation of the method around the nation. On July 3, resources and energy minister Gary Gray announced that a geological sequestration site has been successfully storing carbon since 2008. The facility is located in Otway, regional Victoria and is a part of CCSNET, a new network of CCS research facilities.

"CCS has an essential role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Mr Gray.

"The commercialisation of CCS and other low emissions coal technologies is an important component of meeting the Australian government's emissions reduction targets and to support our ongoing fossil fuel export trade."

One of the key factors for the success of CCS is identifying rocks which have suitable pore volumes for storage, and cap rocks to trap the stored CO2. When suitable environments are available and implemented, CCS technology has the potential to help Australia transition to a low carbon economy, while it will assist in maintaining the nation's energy security and competitiveness in the international marketplace.

Mr Gray announced the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) is eligible for over $50 million to develop CCSNET, with field facilities, onshore and offshore monitoring systems and laboratories, and the potential to cooperate internationally to make the best use of CCS.

Industry modelling has revealed that coal and gas-fired power stations fitted with CCS technology may provide up to 30 per cent of Australia's electricity generation by 2050, which would mean a significant reduction in carbon emissions polluting the atmosphere.

LNG processing, liquid fuel technologies and other industrial processes such as iron, steel and cement could all have CCS applied to them in the future, further reducing the harmful emissions and showing the wide potential of this technology.

Posted by Charlie Moore