The first large-scale underground carbon storage facility in the Southern Hemisphere is being launched today by the Federal resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson.
The project, near Warnambool in Southern Victoria will capture and compress 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into liquid form and inject it two kilometres underground in a depleted natural gas reservoir.
The plant will be operated by the CO2 Cooperative Research Centre. The Centre’s Chief Executive, Peter Cook, said “The project has a very important role in demonstrating the technical and environmental feasibility of geosequestration to Australia and the world and preparing the way for its widespread application.” Dr Cook said that the current plant, although the fifth largest in the world, would always be a research facility and not used for very large-scale storage. Scientists from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada are working on the project.
Dr Cook said that he believed that large-scale underground storage of carbon dioxide would be available for widespread use within ten years. It would always be too expensive to capture the waste from older power stations but “you might do it with a 20-year-old plant”, he said.