New government funding supports coal emissions reduction

The Australian government has pledged $25 million in funding for Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) research at the Otway facility in Victoria.

Federal minister for Industry and Science Ian MacFarlane announced the funding yesterday, which would go to the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC).

MacFarlane said the CO2CRC was globally recognised for its work on CCS at its Otway geological storage test facility.

“The grant ensures that this critical research continues for five more years and we expect to see important technological improvements to CCS modelling, monitoring and verification as a result,” Macfarlane said.

“The end goal is the wide scale deployment of an effective system for capturing carbon dioxide and storing it safely underground.

“Given Australia’s reliance on coal-fired electricity and our abundance of fossil fuels, funding this scientific research into CCS is a sensible investment in the nation’s future.”

“MacFarlane said the government took a “technology neutral approach to energy policy” which allowed a range of different energy sources to compete on a “level playing field”.

“This stance allows Australia to take advantage of new technologies that can contribute to the reliable, sustainable and affordable supply of energy.

“National energy policy should facilitate the market deployment of all possible options and a commercially viable CCS solution would help secure a prosperous future for Australia.”

A statement from MacFarlane’s office said the government was finalising the 2015 Energy White Paper.

“Encouraging innovation like this $25 million in new technology funding will not only help to cut emissions but also drive efficiencies and productivity which will help to put downward pressure on electricity prices,” MacFarlane said.

“Australia has the potential to be an energy and resources superpower but it is important to assure investors that Australia is ‘open for business’ and to have clear and predictable policy settings.”

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) coal executive director Greg Evans welcomed the announcement, and indicated that the Australian coal industry would also contribute $10 million from the COAL21 fund over five years towards the research.

“The Otway geological storage test facility is recognised around the world for the high quality of work conducted,” Evans said.

“Past achievements at the Otway site include successfully storing 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a depleted gas field.

“The continuing program will further develop and build confidence in geological storage as a safe and secure option for reducing emissions from the use of coal.”

Evans said the Otway project was the centrepiece of Australia’s contribution to global development of CCS technology, “which will be a necessary part of a portfolio of low emissions technologies needed to meet growing energy demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

MCA said since 2007 the coal industry has committed $305 million to low emission coal research and demonstration projects.