The Australian Government is proposing to allow the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in carbon capture and storage projects. This raises the question of what carbon capture and storage projects are ongoing or proposed in Australia that might be worthy of funding.
In 2009, the Victorian Government established the CarbonNet Project to investigate the potential for establishing a large-scale, multi-user carbon capture and storage network in Victoria. In 2012, the Commonwealth Government gave a $100 million grant to the project. The project is exploring the potential to capture up to 5 million tonnes of CO2 a year from the LaTrobe Valley coal-fired power stations and store it offshore in the Gippsland Basin in Bass Strait. With carbon capture from coal-fired power stations being prohibitively expensive, the LaTrobe Valley power stations closing and offshore storage being a potential environmental disaster because of the risk of ocean acidification, this project doesn’t seem to have great potential.
The CO2CRC Otway Project in Western Victoria began in 2008. It is a demonstration project which has stored over 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a depleted natural gas reservoir 2,000 metres below the Earth’s surface and is now investigating trapping CO2 in a saline aquifer 1,500 meters below the surface. The project does not attempt to capture carbon from a power station. A naturally occurring mixture of carbon dioxide and methane gas is compressed and transported two kilometres in a dedicated pipeline to the storage site. So far, there has been no sign off leakage.
The Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection Project on Barrow Island off Western Australia is part the world’s largest natural gas project which also includes a liquefied natural gas plant and a domestic gas plant. The Project will have the ability to store up to 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year, making it the world’s largest CO2 injection plant. The initial carbon dioxide injections are planned to take place by the end of 2017.
Air Liquide has installed a commercial carbon capture plant at the aging gas-fired Torrens Island Power Station in Adelaide’s north-west. The plant is expected capture up to 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The CO2 is not stored; instead, it is purified and liquefied for trucking to various sites where it used to carbonate drinks.
A proposed $2 billion coal-to-gas plant with carbon storage at BP Kwinana in Western Australia has been abandoned because the geological formations off Perth contain “gas chimneys” which make it impossible to establish a seal in the strata that could contain the CO2.
The Zerogen Power Station Project at Stanwell in Queensland was to be a 100 megawatt power station with carbon capture and storage. The Government of Queensland has announced that it will not fund the Project because it is not economically viable.
Shell and Anglo American have announced the possible brown coal-to-liquids Monash project in the Latrobe Valley which is proposed to include some carbon capture and storage in depleted off-shore oil fields in the Gippsland Basin in Bass Strait. However. the project is now described as a “long-term opportunity” and is not proceeding at present.