Environmental group Greenpeace Australia Pacific takes a stance on carbon capture and storage technologies as a means of mitigating climate change.
The international nonprofit has slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for its announcement of a $30 million ($40 million AUD) investment into energy major Woodside’s Burrup carbon capture hub project.
The investment would be spent in support of the design and construction of the Burrup carbon capture and storage hub that involves natural gas use.
The funding is also part of a $185 million ($250-million AUD) investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) on Morrison’s election trail.
Another part of the funds is allocated for the design and construction of Mitsui E&P’s Mid West CCS hub ($15 million), and for Buru Energy to assess the potential for onshore storage in the Carnarvon basin ($5.2 million).
According to Morrison, the Burrup and Mid West hubs are expected to reduce emissions by a combined 7.4-million tons per annum from 2028, driving more than $740 million ($1 billion AUD) of investment in regional Western Australia and creating more than 2 000 jobs.
However, Greenpeace argues that the government is essentially giving Woodside a license to pollute as carbon capture technology is still unproven and costly.
“Carbon capture has never worked anywhere in the world at scale, with the most salient example of its failure being found right here in Western Australia. Chevron’s colossal Gorgon gas plant, Australia’s only commercial-scale CCS project, has comprehensively failed, and now the government wants to hand over more public money to waste on this dangerous fantasy technology,” said Jess Panegyres, Head of clean transition at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
Chevron announced last year that its Gorgon project has managed to meet just 30% of its initial carbon reduction target.
The project was expected to achieve 90% emissions sequestration rates so therefore, had to pay compensation to the Australian government for the difference amounting to well over $184 million ($250 million AUD).
“With renewable solutions like wind, solar and batteries offering boundless opportunities for Western Australia, the federal government should be investing in long-term energy and employment solutions for our state, rather than funding technology designed to prolong the life of polluting fossil fuel projects,” added Panegyres.
Carbon capture and storage have proven to be an extremely costly way of cutting carbon emissions. It needs billions of government support in order to achieve widespread adoption and sequestration rates are still not proven to come at 90% efficiency as promised for a significant part of the projects.
They help reduce emissions from fossil fuels but at a high cost and for some projects the funds could be better optimized if spent on other technologies instead like solar and wind capacity development projects that could also bring in more emissions reductions.
Governments will have a hard time justifying the carbon capture subsidies if given with the purpose of sustaining the fossil fuel industry rather than only for eliminating unavoidable emissions from hard to decarbonize industries like steel and cement.