Carbon capture’s role in achieving net-zero emissions
The Federal Government announced the launch of a $50 million Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) Development Fund earlier this month, in response to increased expectations around its role in reducing carbon emissions.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies are one of five priority areas for investment under the Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap.
It involves capturing CO2 from large point sources, including power generation or industrial facilities that use either fossil fuels or biomass for fuel, as well as directly from the atmosphere, through a suite of technologies.
According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions report, plans for more than 30 new integrated CCUS facilities globally have been announced since 2017 following years of a declining investment pipeline.
While the majority are in the United States and Europe, some projects are being planned in Australia.
The IEA said that although CCUS deployment tripled over the last decade, it had fallen well short of expectations.
In 2009 it was forecast that CCUS would store around 300MtCO2 a year between 2010 and 2020, however, realised just 13 per cent of the target at around 40Mt a year.
The IEA said that investment in CCUS had also fallen well behind that of other clean energy technologies – accounting for less than 0.5 per cent of global investment in clean energy and efficiency technologies.
“There are several reasons CCUS has not advanced as fast as needed,” the IEA said.
“Many planned projects have not progressed due to commercial considerations and a lack of consistent policy support.
“In the absence of an incentive or emissions penalty, CCUS may simply not make any commercial sense, especially where the CO2 has no significant value as an industrial input.
“The high cost of installing the infrastructure and difficulties in integrating the different elements of the CO2 supply chain, technical risks associated with installing or scaling up CCUS facilities in some applications, difficulties in allocating commercial risk among project partners, and problems securing financing have also impeded investment.”
So, what has changed?
The IEA said that strengthened national climate targets and new policy incentives, as well as lowering costs and new business models that can improve the financial viability of CCUS, have underpinned the renewed global interest in recent years.
It said that CCUS technologies can provide a means of removing CO2 from the atmosphere to offset emissions from sectors where reaching zero emissions may not be economically or technically feasible.
Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said carbon capture technologies would be critical to achieving net-zero emissions from power generation, natural gas and hydrogen production as well as process emissions from heavy industries.
“Australia has the potential to be a world leader in geosequestration. We have the right geology and storage basins,” Mr Pitt said.
“The (CCUS Development) Fund will provide targeted support to a wide array of carbon capture, use and storage opportunities, including carbon recycling and negative emissions/direct air capture.”
APPEA Chief executive officer Andrew McConville said that Australia’s oil and gas industry is already advancing and commercialising technologies such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen which can accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions both in Australia and overseas.
“This week’s announcement of the new Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Development Fund is further recognition of the pivotal role resources technology and natural gas have in helping achieve a cleaner energy future,” Mr McConville said.