Angus Taylor launches $50 million carbon capture fund despite long road


Two things happened on March 1, 2021. IDTechEx published research showing that carbon capture and storage (CCS) faces a difficult few years, and with typically immaculate timing, the Hon Angus Taylor MP Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, announced a $50 million investment from the Morrison Government into CCS technology.

One thing is for sure, the Morrison Government has a gift for timing rivalled only by great reggae artists born in the European Middle Ages. IDTechEx’s report, titled “Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage 2021-2040” notes that the United Nations estimates CCS “could mitigate between 1.5 and 6.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year by 2050.” In 2020, the global CCS capacity was 40 million tonnes. That’s quite a gap.

Moreover, though the Hon Angus Taylor and the Morrison Government seem to think CCS is a miracle cure rather than a literal sweeping under the rug. The 6.3 gigatonne annual estimate put forward by the UN is still a minuscule proportion of emissions. According to IdTechEx, in 2019 alone, global emissions reached 36 gigatonnes, “and global CO2 emissions are likely to continue growing over the next few years. For carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) to have meaningful impact on emissions in a timely manner, it would need to scale up hundreds of times compared with today’s levels.”

Nevertheless, the Hon Angus Taylor and the Morrison Government have put $50 million towards the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Development Fund (the Fund). CCS was one of the five priority areas for investment under this government’s Technology Investment Roadmap.

At Newcastle University’s pilot site for Mineral Carbonisation International (MCI) on Monday, the Hon Angus Taylor said CCS technologies would be critical to achieving net zero emissions from power generation, natural gas and hydrogen production as well as process emissions from heavy industries like cement and fertiliser production.

“Australia has the potential to be a world leader in geosequestration. We have the right geology and storage basins,” Taylor said.“The Fund will provide targeted support to a wide array of CCUS opportunities, including carbon recycling, negative emissions/direct air capture, and carbon capture and storage.”

“The Morrison Government’s investment will reduce technical and commercial barriers to deploying these technologies and identifying potential project sites,” continued Taylor, who went on to note that trading partners including Singapore and South Korea were watching Australia’s “potential to permanently and safely store emissions underground”.

The Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the Fund will help “ensure our premium quality coal will play an important role in Australia, and the world’s, energy needs for decades to come.”

Such words reflect harshly on the Morrison Government’s ambitions for CCS technology, the Fund is an investment in the protraction of a dying fossil fuel industry, not in emission reduction. After all, if the Morrison Government were really trying to curb emissions, it wouldn’t be investing so strongly in technologies that could only ever have minimal impact. In other words, the Morrison Government is delaying the inevitable, and as Shakespeare made clear in Henry IV, Part I: “…delays have dangerous ends.”

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