Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is one of the options the Australian Government is pursuing to help reduce domestic and global GHG emissions. The Australian Government is committed to developing these technologies in the domestic and international spheres. Information on different aspects of Australia’s CCS commitment can be found below:

CCS Activities in Australia 

CCS activities in Australia currently include pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale projects at various stages of implementation; finalization of legislation and regulations for CO2 storage; and various state, federal, and international programs and funds to accelerate CCS development and deployment. 

The Australian Federal Government, as well as the State governments of Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia, have passed legislation and regulations enabling the geological storage of CO2, both offshore and onshore Australia. Legislation is being developed by New South Wales and Western Australia for those states’ onshore areas. The Australian Government is supporting a number of significant CCS initiatives including: 

  • CCS Flagships – The CCS Flagships program provides support for the accelerated deployment of industrial scale CCS demonstration projects. Projects developed under this funding will form part of Australia’s contribution to the G8’s goal of 20 large scale CCS projects being operational world wide by 2020. Two projects are currently being supported for feasibility stage work under the CCS Flagships Program: the CarbonNet Project and the South West Hub project, discussed below. 
  • National Low Emissions Coal Initiative (NLECI) – The NLECI fosters the development and deployment of low emission coal technologies to reduce emissions from coal use. 
  • National CO2 Infrastructure Plan (NCIP) – The NCIP complements the pre-competitive data acquisition activities under the NLECI program to identify and secure adequate storage. 
  • Global CCS Institute - The Global CCS Institute was established by the Australian Government in 2009 with a mandate of helping to address the barriers to the commercial deployment of CCS through fact-based advocacy and knowledge sharing activities. Since its incorporation in 2009, the Global CCS Institute has attracted widespread support from governments, corporations, industry bodies, companies and research organisations located within key markets around the world. It has built a diversified membership profile with 361 members as at November 2012, representing a robust cross-section of these international stakeholders. 
  • In July 2012, the Institute released a draft Five Year Strategic Plan to its members. The draft Plan outlines the Institute’s strategic objectives and highlights the need to diversify its funding sources, including through membership fees. The Strategic Plan is currently being revised and finalised in response to member feedback.

Other Australian Government CCS initiatives include: 

  • The Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) develops and manages a collaborative partnership between industry, government and university partners and is one of the world’s leading collaborative research institutions specializing in CCS. Since 1998, CO2CRC has undertaken Australia’s only operational storage project in the Otway (Victoria). There are also both pre- and post-combustion capture projects under way.
  • The Australian Low Emissions Coal Research and Development Ltd (ANLEC R&D) is the seven year research program in support of CCS R&D with a particular focus on the development of the CSS Flagships. The coal industry matches the Australian Government contribution. 
  • Release of offshore and onshore areas for exploration for GHG storage formations. In March 2009, the Australian Government released 10 offshore areas for exploration for commercial geological GHG storage sites. On 13 January 2012 an assessment permit was granted to the CarbonNet Flagship project, which is currently managed through the Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation. 
  • The National CCS Council, which comprises members drawn from the power-generation, coal and petroleum sectors, provides advice to the Australian Government. 

CCS Project Actitives 

Advanced Integrated CCS Projects   

Callide Oxyfuel Project (Callide ‘A’) – Queensland, Australia. This demonstration project will capture up to 30,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 from anoxyfuelretrofit to a 30 MWeblack coal-fired power station. This project is being developed through an Australia-Japan technology alliance. In early 2012, the retrofitted power station operated on oxyfiring mode. The capture plant became operational in late 2012 and the project is now undergoing operational testing. 

The Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection Project – Western Australia, Australia. At an expected injection rate of 3.1Mt/a over the life of the Gorgon project, the CO2 injection component is set to be the largest commercial carbon dioxide storage project in the world. Operated by Chevron Australia, the Gorgon project draws reservoir gas from formations in Commonwealth waters some 130 km off the Western Australian coast. Expected to process 15 Mt/a of LNG, the reservoir gas is stripped from the natural gas, conditioned and transported by pipeline to Barrow island for injection in a deep saline formation. Final investment decision for the project was in September 2009 with LNG production expected in 2014. Injection of CO2 should commence around 12 months after LNG production starts. The CO2 injection project is regulated under the Barrow Island Act 2003.

CO2 Hubs and Networks   

The CarbonNet Project aims to capture, condition and transport 3 to 5 Mt/a of CO2 from industries and energy producers in the Latrobe Valley via pipeline for sequestration in the offshore Gippsland basin. The CarbonNet CCS project was awarded Flagship status and a total of $100 million from the Commonwealth and Victorian governments to progress the project through its feasibility stage. The combined funding ($70 million from the Commonwealth and $30 million from the Victorian Government) will identify suitable storage locations, capture options, and the transport pipeline, with a view to developing more accurate cost estimates. Work will also be undertaken to develop a detailed assessment of the commercial, financial and economic dimensions of the Project, and include consideration of the Project’s regulatory requirements and a business model to optimise private sector investment. The CO2CRC is the nominated lead research organization for CarbonNet and was awarded approximately $50 million from the Federal Government’s Education Innovation Fund for setting up CCS research infrastructure that can be applied to CCS and the CarbonNet Project in particular. 

The South West Hub CO2 Geosequestration Project currently underway in Western Australia’s South West to examine the potential for CCS in the region and for CO2 storage in the Lesueur Formation, north of Kemerton industrial area. The area has the potential to be developed as a storage hub for CO2 from surrounding industry, including coal-fired power plants. The project developers aim to store up to 3.3 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. The CO2 would be transported 80 km by pipeline and stored 2-3 km deep in the Lesueur Sandstone in the southern Perth Basin. Project operation is expected in 2015. In June 2011, the project received $52M in funding as part of the CCS Flagships program, which has enabled the project to move to the next phase of decision making which includes the progression pre-competitive data acquisition and analysis of the potential storage area. The assessment for suitable storage space has been completed with the drilling of a stratigraphic well in the region to better understand the subsurface geology. The South West Hub project was awarded CCS Flagsips status and in addition to Australian government support via Flagships, it is a government-industry partnership between the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum, Griffin Energy, Verve Energy, BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina, Wesfarmers Premier Coal, Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilizers, and Alcoa Australia. The work follows a preliminary investigation by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC), which identified the southern Perth Basin as having potential for CCS. WAERA (Western Australian Energy Resources Alliance — a collaboration between CSIRO, the University of Western Australia andCurtin University) was awarded funding from the Federal government from the Education Infrastructure Fund (EIF) to purchase research equipment and assets related to CCS and specifically theSW Hub project. 

Current CCS Pilot-scale Activities   

Alcoa Kwinana Carbonation Plant – WA, AustraliaKwinana Alumina Refinery utilises 70,000 t/a of CO2 from a nearby ammonia plant in a residue carbonation process mixing bauxite residue with CO2. It has been operational since April 2007. Shutdown is planned for 2019.

Latrobe Valley PCC project – Victoria, Australia. &A CSIRO mobile pilot PCC facility designed to capture approximately 1,000 t/a of CO2 was installed at Loy Yang A power station. This project aims to review the technical and economic viability of commercial use of PCC for brown coal power stations, by benchmarking existing and new solvents, obtaining a validated model description of the system and realistic efficiency rates. Operational since May2008.

Delta Electricity Project – The project supports a feasibility study for a medium-scale CCS project involving the retrofit of post-combustion capture technology to an existing coal-fired power station. Vales Point has been selected as the most appropriate location. This study is linked in with geological storage assessment in New South Wales (NSW), a NSW Government Initiative. The Delta Electricity Project builds upon a pilot scale CCS project by Delta at the Munmorah Power Station.

CO2CRC Otway Project Stage 1 & 2 – Victoria, Australia.  During Stage 1 of the project (in 2008 and 2009), approximately 65,000 tons of CO2 was injected into a depleted gas field at approximately 2,000 meters depth. This first stage of the project tested modelling prediction, capacity estimation, containment and monitoring technologies. During Stage 2A of the project, residual trapping was evaluated in asaline formation following a testinjection in 2011. The Otway Project Stage 2B residual gas saturation test has been successfully completed. After eleven weeks of continuous operations, the remaining formation water was pumped back into the formation, concluding a sequence of hydraulic pressure, tracer, thermal, residual saturation and dissolution tests.

CO2CRC UNO MK 3 – Victoria, Australia (Completed). CO2CRC has developed a precipitating solvent process using potassium carbonate (K2CO3), which gives it many advantages over the conventional amine processes currently used to separate CO2 during natural gas processing, including significantly lower energy use, lower overall costs and a range of environmental benefits.The system is being trialled at the GDF-SUEZ Australian Energy Hazelwood power station in Victoria using a one tonne per day capture plant. The trials are validating UNO MK 3 for large-scale CO2 capture and will inform a projected 50 tonne per day plant — the next step in scaling up the technology.

CO2CRC H3 Capture Project – Victoria, Australia (Completed). Three capture technologies were under evaluation at Hazelwood Power Station, with a view to reduce the technical risk and cost of post-combustion capture: solvent, membrane separation and vacuum swing adsorption. Testing started in 2009 and the project has now been completed.

CO2CRC/HRL Mulgrave Capture Project – Victoria, Australia (Completed). The research program at Mulgrave aimed at assessing and optimizing pre-combustion capture technologies (solvent absorption, membrane separation, and pressure swing adsorption) by evaluating the impact of gas contaminants (H2S, CH4, CO) and water; optimizing operating parameters; developing engineering solutions; assessing energy integration options; reviewing technical and economic viability for commercial use. Tests started in 2009. This project has now been completed.

International Power Carbon Capture Plant– Victoria, Australia. The pilot capture project was launched in 2009 to trial capture technologies for brown coal power generation. The plant captured up to 25 tonnes of CO2 per day, which was then used to treat the power station’s ash water and produce a calcium carbonate by-product and reduce the pH of the ash water. It represents the biggest capture plant attached to a power station in Australia.

Tarong Post-combustion Capture Pilot Project – Queensland, Australia. Design and construction of a PCC pilot plant at the existing Tarong Power Station. The project aims to demonstrate PCC at small scale (approximately 1,000 t/a of CO2) using liquid absorbent capture process, while testing alternative operating regimes to reduce the energy penalty and additional resource requirements. The pilot plant’s construction was completed in early 2010 and became operational in March 2010. 

Links to CCS-related information in Australia