Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Geosequestration demonstration plant opens in Victoria

Here is a story about the Otway Basin Project which is a demonstration geosequestration (carbon capture and storage) plant that has just opened in Victoria. 'Clean' coal would be the saviour of not only the coal industry but also many governments including the NSW and Australian Governments. The idea is to trap carbon dioxide below the ground in geological formations. However, there are safety concerns that carbon dioxide may escape out of these formations. The idea of 'burying the problem' may be attractive to many, but until the new risks of this approach are better understood and able to be managed, it is sensible to remain skeptical about claims that 'clean' coal technology will help solve climate change. After all, it was burning all that 'dirty' coal that helped get us all into this mess. The Greens claim this is a tiny demonstration plant and it will do little to prove the safety of the method. The minerals council and the chief executive of the project claim it is significant and will help demonstrate the safety of the technology. Anyway, here is some of the story.
CO2 plant 'a step towards' clean coal

April 2, 2008

The opening of Australia's first carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plant in Victoria has been hailed as a major step toward making "clean coal" viable.

The Otway Basin Project in south-west Victoria will see up to 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide captured from natural gas injected 2km underground in a depleted gas reservoir.

During the two-year trial, CO2 will be compressed and transported to the basin near Nirranda, about 30km east of Warrnambool.

The project is part of research to learn if emissions can be successfully trapped in geological formations, as a way of curbing the greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels.

The Otway project is being conducted by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies - known as CO2CRC - using $40 million in funding from federal and state governments, research organisations and industry.

"Using an innovative geotechnical monitoring program, the CO2CRC Otway project plays an important role in demonstrating the safety of geosequestration technology to communities, industry and governments worldwide," CO2CRC chief executive Peter Cook said.

"(It) has a very important role to play in demonstrating the technical and environmental feasibility of geosequestration to Australia and the world, and preparing the way for its widespread application," Mr Cook said.

The Australian Greens said the project is tiny in comparison to similar efforts overseas and would do little to improve understanding of carbon capture and storage.

Greens energy spokeswoman Christine Milne said it would not prove if carbon can be effectively and affordably captured at coal-fired power stations.

"The Otways project is government-funded PR for the coal sector and would be a perfect place to start for a government looking to find budget cuts," Senator Milne said.
"There simply cannot be a global solution to managing climate change without a clean-coal strategy as part of a suite of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in an international response to managing climate change," Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitch Hooke said.

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