Financial boost for carbon capture and storage

The ambitious pursuit to realise carbon capture and storage has attracted another $5 million in State Government funding, in hopes it can attract future investment in alternative Latrobe Valley brown coal projects.

The funding has been awarded to the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies – a multi-agency research organisation – which has been exploring carbon dioxide (CO2) storage methods at an Otway site near Warrnambool.

CO2CRC chief executive Dr Richard Aldous said the funding would allow the Otway Project to progress onto its next stage, which would include further seismic monitoring techniques with an aim of demonstrating onshore commercial projects could safely store and monitor CO2 within saline formations.

The next project stage comes ahead of the next planned injection of CO2 into the ground next year.

According to the organisation’s website, the project has already seen more than 60,000 tonnes of CO2 injected and stored into the depleted reservoir.

“Otway offers one of the most comprehensive CO2 monitoring programs of its type in the world, providing technical information on geosequestration processes, technologies and monitoring, as well as verification schemes,” Dr Aldous said. “This work is most important to ensure that scientists and engineers predict and demonstrate the movement and final stabilisation of the CO2 in the deep rock formations.”

The field of carbon capture and storage research attracts fierce criticism from environmental groups, who argue the technology is too expensive and is unlikely to be ready for decades.

Past announcements of CCS funding from the state and federal governments have characteristically been tied to the technology’s potential application to current Latrobe Valley power stations.

However in his funding announcement of Friday, Energy and Resources Minister Russell Northe instead heralded the potential of CCS in suring up future alternative brown coal projects.

“By further advancing this work, the CO2CRC opens up future opportunities to attract investment and jobs in new industries involved in the conversion of brown coal to value added commodities such as synthetic gas, fertiliser and methanol,” Mr Northe said.

“Victoria has an opportunity to capitalise on projects such as this with our abundant reserves of brown coal which, with the right measures in place for making brown coal an efficient and sustainable industry, has great potential for boosting the economy.”