CarbonNet drop-in session at Golden Beach

Liz Bell

A GROUP opposing the Ninety Mile Beach carbon capture and storage project is urging people to attend a community drop-in session on Saturday.

The CarbonNet Project is exploring methods of storing carbon dioxide in rock formations under the Bass Strait sea floor, and hopes to begin its next phase by the end of the year.

The project’s organisers have previously stated that hydrogen energy has the potential to become a major export industry for Australia.

But spokesperson for the Ninety Mile Action Group Against Carbon Storage, Tracey Anton, said communities had so far been given “confusing” and “inaccurate” information about the project.

“We really need people to come to this drop-in session, because we believe this session will provide much more information about the project, and people need to be properly informed.”

Ms Anton said opponents were concerned about many aspects of the project, including emissions from the coal industry and the potential dangers of a pipeline under Bass Strait carrying carbon dioxide from the Latrobe Valley to Golden Beach.

She said they planned to submit a petition to Senator Janet Rice to present in the Senate when the bill was on the agenda.

“Our action group know the CarbonNet Project is dependent on creating a new coal industry in Latrobe Valley to generate and capture CO2 emissions to justify the cost of the pipeline and storage of CO2 offshore in geological formations,” she said.

“This is a coal industry just to create jobs, not to remove the current CO2 from the air or to generate power for the domestic market.

“But the real irony is that if the AGL/Kawasaki Coal to Hydrogen project progresses past the pilot stage to capture emissions, it will still create huge emissions via shipping to Japan, only to be used in black coal powered generation in Japan, creating more atmospheric CO2.

Geotechnical and geophysical work to analyse the seabed will begin in the summer, at least six kilometres offshore in Commonwealth waters, as part of the state and federal government funded project.

This would involve a contractor investigating the ocean floor between six to 11 kilometres offshore from Golden Beach.

Project director Ian Filby has previously emphasised the investigation’s next phase would have no affect on residents or sea life.

He said the proposal for this year’s work would include shallow drilling to analyse core samples, sediment studies and minor sonar mapping, which was estimated to take about a week.

Mr Filby said vessels would be visible at times from the shore, and all operations would be subject to environmental plans, including wildlife observers.

CarbonNet’s managing contractor for the offshore appraisal well will be available at the drop-in session to answer questions.

In the latest CarbonNet Project report, the organisation highlights the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report ‘1.5 Degrees Celcius’, which cites 6000 scientific references from 91 authors in 40 countries, saying that faster action is needed to address climate change.

The CarbonNet report also cites Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Alan Finkel, who has written that the focus should not be “renewables or coal”, but on atmospheric greenhouse emissions, as this was the outcome that mattered.

Professor Finkel has also publicly discussed the potential for hydrogen to become a major export industry for Australia, and discussed the hydrogenfrom-coal pilot project in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

In a letter to the Gippsland Times in August, Australian Institute researcher Bill Browne said while there may be a small place for CCS for

industrial processes like cement production and steel making — and Gippsland might be the right place to store carbon dioxide — advocates for CCS should “be honest” with local communities about how the technology struggles despite massive taxpayer subsidy, and how often CCS dreams have been “expensive flops”.