Taylor spruiks CCS
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has been promoting carbon capture and storage in Australia, but there is serious concern that the technology does not work.
The Federal Government is pushing to allow its clean energy funding bodies to invest in fossil fuel projects, such as extending the life and improving the efficiency of some coal and gas-fired power plants.
Mr Taylor wants the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Corporation to fund carbon capture and storage (CCS) as well.
“Our agencies need to be able to develop technologies that can bring down emissions outside of electricity as well as integrating [them into] the electricity grid and making sure we continue to see those emissions reductions, and that means a whole new range of technologies,” he said.
The energy minister has shot down questions about the efficacy and usefulness of CCS so far.
“Let's be clear, carbon capture and storage is already working. We've got it working in Australia, we've got the biggest project in the world in Australia,” he said.
It is likely he was referring to Australia’s only large-scale carbon capture and storage operation, which is located at Chevron's Gorgon gas facility on Barrow Island off Western Australia.
The gas giant’s project approval requires it to capture and store between 3.4 and 4 million tonnes of CO2 emitted from the plant each year.
The company received $60 million from the Western Australian Government to assist with the technology.
In fact, the processing facility was built on Barrow Island - a Class-A Nature Reserve - because it has suitable substrate for injecting CO2 in the seafloor nearby.
The plan is to take CO2 separated from their natural gas and pump it over 800 metres under the seafloor, where porous geology allows the gas to move horizontally and become trapped.
But Chevron has not been able to get the technology to work. Still, this has not stopped the company from operating the gas processing facility since 2016, without capturing any of its greenhouse emissions at all.
In addition to the fact that CCS does not work even on a purpose-built site owned by a multinational resources giant, most of Australia's industry and power plants does not have useful geology nearby.
Experts say CCS should not be used as a substitute for clean energies like solar, wind, and pumped hydro, and that while it may be useful to invest in complex, unproven CCS technologies, it should not be funded instead of clean energy.