What is Carbon Capture and Storage: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a tried and tested process where carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial processes is captured and stored securely in rock formations deep underground. Typically, these formations previously stored oil and gas for millions of years.
The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) support CCS as a way of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and avoiding catastrophic climate change.
“Achieving net zero will be challenging and will require new production processes, low and zero emissions electricity, hydrogen, and, where necessary, carbon capture and storage.”
At the July 2022 Sydney Energy Forum, IEA executive director Fatih Birol singled out CCS, renewable energy and hydrogen as the areas that Australia should be prioritising as it moves forward in the transition to low-carbon energy. “Energy is good, emissions are bad. So, if we are able to use these energies without emissions by deploying carbon capture and storage it may be good news for Australia, Australian business and for the world.”
CCS in Australia: Research shows that the geology deep below the seabed in the Gippsland Basin is well suited to CO2 storage within rock formations. These geological formations have stored oil and gas securely for millions of years.
The CarbonNet project (co-funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments) is advancing the science and viability of CCS at a commercial scale through field investigations at the project’s Pelican site in Bass Strait, off the Gippsland coast.
Esso Australia is undertaking early front-end engineering design studies, to determine the potential for a South East Australia Carbon Capture Hub, which aims to store CO2 in the depleted Bream gas field off the coast of Gippsland.
Chevron’s Gorgon (West Australia) LNG facility incorporates the world’s largest CCS system, which has already permanently captured 6 million tonnes of CO2 from offshore gas reservoirs and injected it into a giant sandstone formation two kilometres beneath Barrow Island.
CCS around the world: According to the Global CCS Institute there are 30 CCS facilities operating globally with over 153 more in various stages of development. Carbon capture and storage projects are becoming increasingly diverse, with facilities in development in a broad range of sectors including power generation, liquefied natural gas (LNG), cement, steel, waste-to-energy, direct air capture and storage and hydrogen production. Countries with commercial CCS facilities under development, include USA, Canada, UK, China, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, and Sweden.
Scaling up production of clean hydrogen from coal with CCS is considered comparatively simple compared to renewable methods because the technology has been in use for decades – globally there are five low-carbon hydrogen production facilities with CCS in operation.
CCS and the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project: The HESC Project, “a world-first project to produce hydrogen in Victoria and export it to Japan” will not proceed to its commercial phase without CCS to sequester CO2 emissions.
Producing hydrogen using non-renewable sources with CCS, as assessed by the International Energy Agency and US Department of Energy, is currently the most economical way to produce clean hydrogen at scale.