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Australia awards A$50 million for CCUS projects

08 June 2021 Kevin Adler

The Australian government has awarded the first A$50 million (approximately US$38.7 million) to six companies from its Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Development Fund, it announced on 8 June.

The program was launched 1 March. At the time of launch, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said: "Australia has the potential to be a world leader in geosequestration. We have the right geology and storage basins."

The government's investment leveraged commitments from each of the companies as well, yielding a total investment of A$412 million (US$319 million).

"Australia already has the world's largest carbon capture facility of its kind, and this is one of five priority areas for future investment under the government's 'Technology Investment Roadmap,'" said Taylor in a statement 8 June.

The project Taylor referenced is Chevron's CO2 injection project at its Gorgon LNG production and export facility. Earlier this year, Chevron Executive Vice President, Upstream, Jay Johnson said the company had injected more than 4 million mt of CO2 at the site. At full capacity, the Gorgon site will be able to store 4 million mt/year of CO2.

The successful applicants were:

  • Santos: Up to A$15 million towards the capture and storage of CO2 emitted from the company's Moomba LNG operations for permanent storage in the Cooper Basin, South Australia. The project is expected to store 1.7 million mt per annum on an ongoing basis.
  • Mineral Carbonation International: Up to A$14.6 million towards the construction of a mobile demonstration plant that captures and uses CO2 to produce manufacturing and construction materials, such as concrete, plasterboard, and fire-retardant materials on Kooragang Island, New South Wales.
  • Energy Developments: Up to A$9 million towards the capture and use of CO2 emitted from the production of biomethane at landfill sites across multiple locations across Australia for use in cement carbonation curing.
  • Carbon Transport and Storage Company: Up to A$5 million to demonstrate the viability of CCS from a coal-fired power station in Queensland and support the development of geological storage in the Surat Basin.
  • Corporate Carbon Advisory: Up to A$4 million towards Australia's first demonstration direct-air-capture and storage project for geologically sequestering CO2 in an existing injection well in Moomba, South Australia.
  • Boral: Up to A$2.4 million towards a pilot-scale CCUS project to improve the quality of recycled concrete, masonry, and steel slag aggregates at New Berrima, New South Wales.

"The projects we have supported through this program include a number of exciting, Australian-first technology demonstrations," Taylor said, adding that his office received applications for approximately triple the level of investment that was approved.

The awards are just the start, as the CCUS Development Fund will have A$263.7 million available in FY 2021-22, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency making lending and grant decisions.

The government and private companies have been supporting research on CCS and CCUS for a number of years. One of Australia's leading demonstration projects is the CO2CRC Otway Stage 3 Project, which announced it had reached "a major milestone" on 30 April. CO2CRC said it had completed the injection of 15,050 mt of CO2 into a saline formation 1.5 km below ground at its Otway International Test Centre in Victoria.

BHP, Chevron, Eni, ExxonMobil, Santos, Shell, Total and Woodside Petroleum are partners with CO2CRC, which is a not-for-profit research institution. CO2CRC says on its website that the project's goal has been to improve and reduce costs for subsurface CO2 monitoring and verification technologies for CCS.

"Analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that half the global reductions required to achieve net zero will come from technologies that are not yet ready for commercial deployment," Taylor said. "That's why we're partnering with industry to accelerate new projects and unlock the emissions and economic benefits of carbon capture technology."

In May, IEA published a report, titled, "Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector," which called for a series of measures to drastically reduce carbon emissions quickly. In addition, it said that for the world to meet the goal of net-zero carbon emissions, new technologies such as CCUS, clean hydrogen fuel, and advanced nuclear power will have to be developed and deployed at commercial scale (see IHS article).

Australia has a relatively modest goal for reducing its emissions, compared with most developed economies, which is to reduce GHG emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030. This target trails the US and the EU, which are in the 50-55% range. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison emphasized at the Leaders Summit on Climate in April that Australia's actual emissions reductions have exceeded its prior targets, and that it's on track to continue to outperform its promises. It reached its goal for 2020 several years ahead of schedule, and its emissions in 2020 were 535.7 million mt of CO2-equivalent, according to preliminary data in a quarterly report.

Australia's annual CO2-equivalent emissions

Source: Parliament of Australia

Posted 08 June 2021 by Kevin Adler, Editor, Climate & Sustainability Group, IHS Markit

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