Carbon capture and storage in Australia

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an approach to mitigate global warming by capturing carbon dioxide CO2 from large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants and storing it instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. CCS is also used for increasing yield from declining oil fields, and for storage of CO2 from natural gas fields.

No coal fired power station in Australia presently has CCS of CO2. CCS is not presently a viable technology for reduction of Greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired power stations and is not expected, even by its proponents, to be commercially viable until at least 2020. Even if viable for some power stations after that date there are serious issues which mean it is unlikely to be a major contributor to the reduced emissions said by the International Panel on Climate Change to be necessary by 2020 to reduce global warming and consequent sea level rise caused by anthropogenic climate change.

Challenges

# Cost of CCS will make coal fired electricity more expensive than wind power [http://www.ceem.unsw.edu.au/content/userDocs/RefutingWindpowerFallacies.pdf by Dr Mark Diesendorf accessed 27 May 2008]
# Leakage from underground or undersea reservoirs
# Leakage during transport could lead to death from asphyxiation
# Distance of power stations from potential reservoirs will increase costs and the manufacture and transport of the infrastructure will cause more resource (including energy) usage.
# Scarcity of potential sites and capacity compared to volumes of greenhouse gas needed to be sequestered on an ongoing basis
# Existing power stations unlikely to be able to have carbon capture technology retrofitted [ [http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/false-hope.pdf Layout 1 ] ]
# CCS is forecast to require up to 30% more coal than conventional plants to cover the energy needs of CCS, and that extra coal must first be mined (which has environmental effects) and transported to the plant (which takes energy)
# Infrastructure required would take decades to build
# emissions of acid rain-causing gases like nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides of a plant that captures CO2 will up to 40 percent greater than the total cradle-to-grave emissions of a modern plant that doesn't capture its CO2 because of the extra coal burnt [cite web |url=http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/35181/title/Carbon_sequestration_frustration |last = Barry|first = Patrick |title = Carbon sequestration frustration |accessdate=2008-08-19 |date=2008-08-13 |publisher=Society for Science & the Public]

Infrastructure

According to Vaclav Smil, of the University of Manitoba, in Canada, we would need an infrastructure whose annual volume handled would be twice as big as the world's crude oil industry just to sequester one quarter of carbon dioxide emitted in 2005 by large stationary sources. This would take decades to accomplish.

Transport of co2

In Australia, the major emissions sites are in the La Trobe Valley and Hunter Valley. The La Trobe Valley has some potential storage within a few hundred kilometres in Bass Strait oil fields but his requires expensive off shore development. There are no particularly promising large storage prospects near the Hunter Valley. Geologically most prospective areas are the North West Shelf (thousands of kilometres from emissions sources) and Bass Strait. The costs in Australia are therefore likely to be substantially more than for some other countries. The time to develop infrastructure also means CCS is not a viable solution to the immediate problem of Global warming and its effects on Australia [https://www.citigroupgeo.com/pdf/SAU04258.pdf accessed 27 May Dr John Bradshaw, CEO, Greenhouse Gas Storage Solutions ]

Liability for leakage

The world's first laws to allow companies to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and bury them under the seabed are under consideration in Canberra. A federal parliamentary committee has given the green light to burying carbon pollution under the ground - and suggested taxpayers pay any clean-up bills. If legislated this would be a huge taxpayer subsidy to polluters. []

Commercial projects in operation

Nil in Australia. There is doubt about whether there will ever be commercial CCS for coal fired power stations because of the challenges faced and the collapse of the Futuregen project in the USA.

Failed projects

BP Kwinana (WA) coal to gas plant

A proposed $2 billion "hydrogen energy" coal-to-gas plant will not proceed because the geological formations off Perth, which were intended to sequester the CO2, contain gas "chimneys" that mean leaks were virtually inevitable. Leaks would be expected to lead to acidification of the ocean in the immediate vicinity. [ [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23672893-5005200,00.html Chimneys sweep BP clean coal plan away | The Australian ] ]

Demonstration projects

Otway Basin

The CO2CRC Otway Project in Western Victoria is a demonstration project which aims to inject and store 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a depleted natural gas reservoir 2km below the Earth’s surface. Carbon dioxide and natural gas are extraced from a gas well, then compressed and piped to a new injection well. The gases are then injected into the depleted gas field. A nearby well is used to monitor the injected carbon dioxide. The total to be sequestered is 0.08% of Victoria's annual greenhouse gas emissions. It is described as the world's largest research and geosequestration demonstration project. [ [http://www.co2crc.com.au/otway/ CO2CRC - Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies ] ]

Latrobe Valley Post Combustion Capture Project

This is a joint collaboration between Loy Yang Power, International Power Hazelwood, government and researchers from CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship and the CO2CRC (including Monash and Melbourne Universities). The 10.5 metre-high pilot plant is designed to capture up to 1000 tonnes of CO2 per annum from the power station’s exhaust-gas flues. Future trials will involve the use of a range of different CO2-capture liquids. On 9 July 2008 CSIRO Energy Technology Chief, Dr David Brockway announced that carbon dioxide (CO2) had been captured from power station flue gases in a post-combustion-capture (PCC) pilot plant at Loy Yang Power Station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. The pilot plant would have to be scaled up 12,500 times to capture the emissions from the power station. [ [http://www.csiro.au/news/CarbonDioxideCapture.html Coal-generated CO2 captured in Australia – a first (Media Release) ] ]

Proposed projects

Gorgon gas field, Barrow Island

Chevron Texaco's proposal to sequester CO2 from the Gorgon gas field is potentially unsafe as the area has over 700 wells drilled in the area, 50 of which reach the area proposed for geosequestration of CO2. Fault lines compound the problems. Barrow Island is also an A class nature reserve of global importance. [http://www.wwf.org.au/news/plan-to-bury-gorgons-greenhouse-gas-too-risky-wwf/ accessed 27 May 2008]

Fairview project

The Fairview Project, near Roma in south-west Queensland, is intended to capture 1/3 of the CO2 emissions from a 100 MW coal seam methane gas fired power station.

Zerogen power station

The Zerogen powerstation project near Stanwell power station in Queensland is proposed to be a 100 MW "Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle" power station with CCS. The projected costs appear uneconomic compared to the Bald Hills Wind Farm.

Hazelwood power station

Hazelwood is reputedly "the developed world’s most greenhouse-polluting power plant" largely because of its reliance on brown coal. It is planned that from 2008 it will capture about 18,000 tonnes per year from one of its 200 MW units.

Monash coal-to-liquids

This possible brown coal project in the Latrobe Valley, is planned to have some CCS, storing the gas captured in depleted off-shore oil fields in the Gippsland Basin in east Bass Strait. [ [http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/09/monash_energy_m.html Green Car Congress: Monash Energy Moving Forward on 60Kbpd Coal-to-Liquids with Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project ] ]

See also

* Effects of global warming on Australia
* Energy policy of Australia
* Wind power in Australia
* Solar power in Australia
* Coal mining in Australia
* Renewable energy commercialization in Australia
* Mandatory renewable energy targets
* Emissions trading
* Garnaut Climate Change Review
* Mitigation of global warming in Australia

References


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