Here we go again on the never ending fight by the Coalition to prop up the fossil fuel industry.
Josh Frydenberg announced yesterday that he will seek to change the rules governing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to allow it to invest in carbon capture and storage technology.
Mr Frydenberg told reporters that carbon capture and storage could cut emissions from fossil fuels by up to 90 per cent. I would love to know where he got that figure from.
He quoted the International Energy Agency as having said carbon capture and storage would be important in meeting targets to limit climate change.
According to the IEA, “CCS could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 13%.”
Further, the IEA state that the level of fossil fuel energy in the global energy mix in 2013 was 81%. To keep global temperature rise below 2oC this will need to decrease to 40% of primary energy use by 2050. This would require 95% of coal fired power plants and 40% of gas fired power plants to be equipped with CCS.
“This is proven technology – technology that should be made to work here in Australia to reduce emissions and help us meet our Paris targets,” Mr Frydenberg said.
He said there were 17 successful projects across the globe, storing about 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. To put that in perspective, Australian annual emissions alone are about 550 million tonnes.
A paper published in 2014 titled Determining the success of carbon capture and storage projects found that CCS projects which are nowhere near oil fields (CO2 can be sold to enhance oil production of flagging oil fields) or have no hope of selling large volumes of carbon dioxide are likely to be hopelessly uneconomic.
The main results are that project experience, non-commercial storage of CO2, public funding and carbon policy are negatively linked to project success likelihood.
Reneweconomy examined the Canadian experience at Boundary Dam.
The overblown hype surrounding the official opening of the Boundary Dam CCS project says a lot about the desire of CCS supporters to have one plant they can at long last point to as operating “commercially” even if it is a small and hideously expensive plant with limited long-term applicability to anywhere else in the world.
It is interesting to note that, back in February, it was reported that Clive Palmer was seeking government funding for CCS projects.
Waratah Coal wrote to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to express interest in obtaining funding for a $1.25 billion coal-fired power station and carbon capture and storage facility in Central Queensland.
The proposal for a 900-megawatt power station and carbon capture and storage facility is attached to Waratah Coal’s $6.4 billion China First coal mine in the Galilee Basin – projects that have been dormant for the past five years as the coal market went off the boil.
The revived plan was originated in 2009. It proposed to bury the emissions from the coal plant under the very same coal province that the three mining groups propose to mine – except that it will be “sequestered” in an “un-mineable” area of coal seams some 1km underground.
The $1.25 billion figure comes from its 2009 estimates, but it is expected that this is well out of the ball-park now. It also does not, the application makes clear, include the cost of carbon capture and sequestration.
No plant in the world has come close to making this a commercially viable proposition and the owners of the most advanced project, Kemper in Georgia, now admit it would be impossible make money from coal generation and CCS.
Resources minister Matt Canavan has been particularly vocal in support of a new coal-fired power station in north Queensland. This proposal, from Palmer, is the only proposal in the pipeline. Most other energy investors in the area are instead looking to solar and wind farms.
This path to promote coal was an inevitability heralded by Turnbull’s appointment of Sid Marris as his climate and energy adviser and Vanessa Guthrie to the board of the ABC.
Marris has worked for the Minerals Council since 2008, after spending 16 years at the Australian newspaper. Guthrie has more than 30 years of experience in the mining and resources industries and is the chair of the Minerals Council. She was appointed to the ABC despite not making the short list recommended by the independent panel.
Clean coal is a con but the corporate vultures are circling at the smell of government handouts to keep them going. CCS may become essential but it will be enormously expensive for very little result. There are better options.