Low emission technologies for fossil fuels

  • The Australian Government has invested nearly $590 million in research and development on low emission technologies for fossil fuels, such as Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) and coal mine methane abatement.
  • CCUS can significantly reduce emissions from key industrial processes such as steel and cement manufacturing; and in coal and gas power generation, which will remain part of the electricity mix for the foreseeable future.
  • CCUS is not an experimental technology. It is being deployed or available now at commercial scale; there are seventeen large scale projects operating worldwide. Australia is set to join these ranks soon via the Gorgon CO2 Injection Project.
  • Australia is one of the first countries in the world to introduce legislation and guidelines on CCUS.
  • Australia will host the next Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies Conference in Melbourne, 21–26 October 2018. The conference series has established itself as the principal international conference on greenhouse gas mitigation technologies, especially on CCUS.

Low emission fossil fuel technologies are being investigated in Australia and around the world because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), in the power sector and across industrial processes such as cement, steel and hydrogen production.

Low Emission Fossil Fuel Technologies include:

Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage

CCUS technology works by capturing CO2 when it is emitted by industries such as coal or gas-fired power stations and compressing it so that it can be transported to a site where it is injected for permanent storage. These sites are usually underground. Alternatively the CO2 may be used in applications like enhanced oil recovery and in the beverage industry as a food-grade additive.
The first commercial-scale carbon capture project in Australia is being developed as part of the Gorgon LNG Project in Western Australia. It includes the design, construction and operation of facilities to inject and store CO2 into a deep reservoir unit.

High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired technologies

Low emission fossil fuel technologies, such as HELE, can provide affordable and reliable electricity, which is an essential ingredient to economic growth. HELE power stations produce much lower emissions than older plants and when combined with CCUS could reduce emissions by 90 per cent.

Fugitive emissions abatement technologies

Technologies to mitigate fugitive emissions from coal mines are important for safety and greenhouse gas mitigation and will contribute to the sustainability of the coal industry.

How is the department involved?

The department promotes and supports low emission technologies for fossil fuels through:

  • Setting legislation and regulation to give industry and the community confidence and certainty, particularly around carbon capture and storage.
  • Identifying storage potential and enabling exploration by developing sufficient basic public knowledge of prospective carbon dioxide storage sites. This knowledge helps to inform government decisions on the release of suitable greenhouse gas exploration acreage for commercial exploration and development under CCUS legislation and regulation.
  • Engaging internationally to promote and leverage the opportunities offered by low emissions technologies.
  • Providing funding to support and accelerate the development and deployment of new technologies including via the following programs: 
    • National Low Emissions Coal Initiative
    • Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships
    • Low Emissions Technology Development Fund
    • Coal Methane Abatement Technology Support Package

The Australian Government, with industry and research partners, have made solid progress to accelerate research, development and deployment of low emission fossil fuel technologies, such as the Callide Oxyfuel Project, a world first project that successfully demonstrated how oxyfuel combustion and carbon capture technology can be applied to a coal-fired power plant to generate electricity with low emissions. However, more is needed to stimulate investment and accelerate deployment efforts across the globe to meet climate targets and to secure affordable and reliable energy supplies.

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