CCS is already ‘a proven success’: CarbonNet

According to CarbonNet, carbon capture storage is a proven process, safely operating for 45 years across many industrial sectors, with 23 commercial scale projects underway globally and many more planned.

CARBONNET has responded to recent claims in a Gippsland Times article that it had not been upfront about the safety of carbon capture and storage technology. Opponents of carbon capture technology who attended a community information session in Golden Beach last month expressed claimed information about the safety of transporting CO2 in a yet-to-be-built pipeline conflicted with information provided on the company’s own website. Resident Tracey Anton said the project proponents told participants that CO2 transportation was safe, despite the risks detailed in documents on the CarbonNet website. But a CarbonNet spokesman said the Commonwealth and Victorian government funded project was engaging with all communities across Gippsland regarding the potential impacts and benefits of a carbon capture and storage network.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing to see misinformation being spread about CCS, which is used safely and successfully in many countries to lower greenhouse emissions,” he said. “There is overwhelming evidence from around the world about the safety and benefits of CCS – and Australia has strict regulatory processes to ensure that processing, transporting and injecting CO2 would happen safely.”

CarbonNet maintains that globally, there are numerous commercial scale CCS facilities across various industries and more than 6000km of CO2 pipelines operating safely for more than 45 years. “CCS involves permanently storing CO22 in rock layers below the sea bed, similar to the way gas has been stored naturally for millions of years,” proponents say. “CCS is a proven process, safely operating for 45 years across many industrial sectors, with 23 commercial scale projects underway globally and many more planned. “Since 2008, a CCS demonstration project has also been running successfully in Victoria’s Otways. “Internationally CCS is increasingly being acknowledged as critical to achieving emission reduction targets.” The spokesperson urged people to “check the reliability of sources distributing information about CCS programs”.

But Ms Anton remains unconvinced, saying it was still unproven any “hazardous consequences” associated with the failure of CO2 transportation pipelines could be avoided, and whether CO2 could even be stored securely and safely underground. She said in a submission to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Amendment (Carbon Capture and Storage) Bill 2017, which lapsed in April because of the change of government, several people opposed the pursuit of carbon capture projects on safety grounds. The bill would amend the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 to remove the prohibition on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation investing in carbon capture and storage technologies. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is responsible for investing $10 billion in clean energy projects on behalf of the Australian government. In its submission, Environmental Justice Australia wrote CCS “has so far failed to deliver on its potential to reduce future carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere”.

“It is not a proven technology. Sufficient doubt exists about the environmental and economic risks associated with this technology such that CCS should not be considered ‘clean energy’ and investing in it would not amount to a proper use of government resources. “The risk of CO2 leakage – in the context of the scale that sequestering is required to be effective is too dangerous to consider even if today’s forecasting suggests the probability of leakage is low. “Experience suggests that the only certainty with natural world modelling, in parallel with economic and financial forecasting, is that it will be materially wrong at some time and in an unpredictable and catastrophic manner.” A CarbonNet community reference group has now been established “to broaden conversations across Gippsland, providing an opportunity to further create shared knowledge of the issues and opportunities associated with carbon capture and storage”.

The CarbonNet community reference group met recently in Sale, receiving a full briefing on the project’s progress to date. The group’s membership is diverse including representation from the community, local government, the energy industry, farming and academia. Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, has also joined the group. CarbonNet project director Ian Filby said “we value talking to anyone who has an interest in climate change action and the opportunities for CCS in Bass Strait”. “The community reference group is a great opportunity for locals to help shape Gippsland’s future while contributing to emissions reduction, the development of jobs and the local economy,” he added. “If people want to know more about CarbonNet but didn’t get along to the session at Golden Beach [recently], please get in contact with our local team and we’ll have a valuable conversation with you to answer your questions.”