26/11/2008 - 22:00

Carbon capture just one of several options

26/11/2008 - 22:00

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THE federal government is pinning too much hope on successful commercialisation of carbon capture and storage technology, the WA Business News emissions trading forum has heard.

THE federal government is pinning too much hope on successful commercialisation of carbon capture and storage technology, the WA Business News emissions trading forum has heard.

Synergy chief executive Jim Mitchell said while he was still hopeful, he questioned if CCS would in fact turn out to be the answer for a low-carbon future.

Verve managing director Shirley In't Veld said a consortium of relevant players was looking at carbon capture and storage in the Harvey Ridge, but that was a long-term plan and not likely to come online for another 15-20 years.

The electricity generator was also looking at other low-carbon generation projects including advanced solar thermal projects, biomass and integrated wood processing plants.

"You try and keep options open," she said.

"Coal-fired is still cheapest."

Global efforts towards the commercialisation of the technology have suffered a series of setbacks in recent times, with a number of major initiatives failing to materialise.

These include the 'restructuring' of the FutureGen project in the US and the collapse of the Rio Tinto/BP $2 billion CCS project slated for Kwinana.

Currently, Australia has one of the largest and most comprehensive carbon geosequestration projects in the world operating at the Otway Basin in Victoria.

That project has already successfully sequestered 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide two kilometres underground.

In WA, Chevron is investigating the feasibility of incorporating CCS at its proposed Gorgon LNG project, with more than $100 million spent on feasibility studies to date.

Aspiring energy generator Aviva Corporation is also looking at the possibility of using CCS technology at its $1 billion 400-megawatt coal-fired power station near Eneabba.

Treasury modeling indicates that CCS for coal in Australia becomes economically viable when the emission price reaches a value in the range $A45-$A80/t CO2, growing at 4 per cent per year.

A state government study into carbon dioxide geosequestration has identified Harvey Ridge, south of Lake Clifton, as having the best potential for a future site within 50 kilometres of the Collie coalfields.

In his final report, Professor Ross Garnaut said the future for coal-based electricity generation, for coal exports and for mitigation in developing Asia depended on the technology becoming commercially effective.

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