Regulatory delay is limiting the critical role Australian carbon capture projects should play in enabling industrial-scale carbon emissions abatement in Asia, according to leading CCS research and development organisation CO2CRC.
Addressing an APEC symposium in Kobe, Japan, last week CO2CRC CEO Dr Matthias Raab said Australia has a golden opportunity for global CCS leadership.
“We need to rollout multiple CCS projects with large-scale storage around and across Australia – and this needs to be done quickly to meet emissions reduction targets,” Dr Raab said.
He said the current project approval cycle takes up to nine years due to cumbersome State and Federal regulatory processes.
“The CCS industry can move faster than governments can approve projects,” Dr Raab said. “So legislated targets are at odds with the industry’s ability to get project approvals.”
“To achieve our emission reduction target of 43% below 2005 levels by 2030, we will need 50% reduction in permitting time. Delays are deadly – a lack of urgency will deter investment and entrench the status quo in emissions.”
“If these issues aren’t addressed, investments will shift to more supportive countries, hampering Australia’s decarbonisation progress.”
CO2CRC CEO, Dr Matthias Raab (front, left), photographed with a subset of the APEC delegation at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Takasago turbine manufacturing plant which produces the world’s largest gas, ammonia, and hydrogen turbines. October, 2023.
With the International Energy Agency highlighting that global 2050 climate goals are unattainable without CCS, and a slower than needed roll-out of renewables in most major economies, Dr Raab said the emphasis on delivering new CCS projects is increasing.
This is especially true in the US where the Inflation Reduction Act 2022 has significantly increased subsidies for CO2 capture. In Britain, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a big expansion of carbon capture and storage as part of his “proportionate and pragmatic” approach to tackling climate change – and still achieving a net zero economy by 2050.
CO2CRC is working with industry and government to facilitate continued supportive policies, and critically support a major approval process review through its regulatory affairs task force.
“Industry accepts environmental approval processes must be robust, but to deliver CCS at scale, we need a faster, more efficient approach to regulatory approvals.”
Australia has the world’s largest carbon storage project at Chevron’s Gorgon facility in Western Australia, with Santos having taken a final investment decision to develop the Moomba CCS project in South Australia. Another 17 projects are in feasibility.
CO2CRC identifies four of those projects as high potential: the SEA CCS and CarbonNet projects offshore Victoria and the Bonaparte and Bayu-Undan projects of offshore NT.
Dr Raab said if all were delivered by 2032, along with Gorgon and Moomba, between 31 and 35 million tonnes of CO2 a year could be stored – reducing Australia’s emissions by 8% – but that was an optimistic target given current approval timelines.
Contact: Nathan Vass at NVass@HAdvisorsAPA.au or on 0405 799 790