Media response: CCS ‘magic’ is well tested and widely deployed
Wednesday, 11 January 2017: Claims made by John Quiggin (Crikey, 10 January) which attempt to disregard carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a global warming mitigation technology contain a number of egregious errors. For the record, the facts are these:
- Mr Quiggin claims that the only version of CCS that is remotely commercial arises when CO₂ is pumped into exhausted oil wells
Wrong: CO₂ is not pumped into oil wells. In the process known as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), CO₂ is pumped into dedicated injection wells. This is not the only commercial CCS application. CCS can also be applied to a raft of other CO₂ emission sources, including natural gas processing, gas-fired power generation, iron and steel production, ammonia/ fertiliser production, cement, paper, bio-ethanol, and hydrogen.
- Mr Quiggin claims that CCS works best with a pure source of CO₂, for example, from natural gas processing rather than a “messy mix of gases” from coal-fired power stations
Wrong: There are a broad range of industries in which CCS is commercially viable at large scale, all of which require separation and purification of waste CO₂, including natural gas processing.
- Mr Quiggin claims that CCS activity in Australia is now limited to research projects with a trickle of fundingWrong: Australia will shortly boast its own large-scale CCS Project when Gorgon CCS begins operations in Western Australia. This will capture 3 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. Two other Australian facilities are in development, one in the State of Victoria (the CarbonNet Project) and another in Western Australia (South West Hub). CarbonNet will provide a large scale transport and storage hub for prospective emission sources in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, and South-West hub in Western Australia is a similar shared infrastructure facility expected to capture around 2.5 million tonnes of CO₂ per year.
- Mr Quiggin claims that our website shows that CCS is not a viable option
Wrong: It certainly does not. There are now 16 large-scale CCS facilities operating globally with a further five being deployed this year. This clearly proves the economic viability of CCS
- Mr Quiggin claims that after decades of work, there is only one operational plant using CCS (Boundary Dam, in Canada)
Wrong: The inference that the low number of coal-fired CCS projects in planning is a sign of CCS failure (or a reason to abandon it), ignores the many other CCS applications that are available. An alternative conclusion, and one aligned with public interest, is that Australia (and indeed the world) faces a substantial challenge in reducing emissions, and that all technologies (including CCS) should be given much more support by governments, industry and consumers. Without the full arsenal of mitigation technologies (the so-called “all of the above” strategy advocated by outgoing US President Obama) climate change targets will simply not be met. For the record, one new coal fired, CCS-retrofitted power plant in the United States (Petra Nova) came on-stream overnight, and another (Kemper) will commence operations in the next few weeks.
We thank Mr Quiggin for the opportunity to rectify these inconsistencies. Climate change is a reality and the debate is important.
CCS technology has been around since the 1970s and is renowned as a proven, safe, and cost-effective technology.
Best available modelling by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a veritable army of global climate change experts, agree that it will be impossible to deliver Paris climate change targets, and at least cost, if CCS is not adopted as a key mitigation option.
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About the Global CCS Institute The Global CCS Institute is an international membership organisation. Our mission is to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS), a vital technology to tackle climate change and provide energy security.
Working with and on behalf of our Members, we drive the adoption of CCS as quickly and cost effectively as possible by sharing expertise, building capacity and providing advice and support so that this vital technology can play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Our diverse international membership consists of governments, global corporations, small companies, research bodies and nongovernment organisations, committed to CCS as an integral part of a low-carbon future. We are headquartered in Melbourne, Australia with regional offices in Washington DC, Brussels, Beijing and Tokyo. For more information, visit www.globalccsinstitute.com