CCS essential to helping arrest climate change

Antonios Papaspiropoulos, global lead, advocacy and communications, Global CCS Institute

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

I AM responding to Ian Onley’s letter to the Gippsland Times headed ‘No satisfactory answer from CarbonNet’.

Mr Onley makes the claim that the Global CCS Institute has identified the cost of “pumping CO2 into a formation” at $104 per tonne of CO2 or $130 per MWh of electricity for a super critical power station.

That figure relates to the cost of carbon capture and storage on a hypothetical, generic new build power station.

It is based on full-chain costs associated with CO2 capture, compression, transportation and injection.

The actual cost of storage — compression, transportation and injection — is about $50 per tonne of CO2.

The real story here is that overall CCS costs are continuing to plummet as more facilities commercialise.

This is Economics 101. The more you do, the cheaper it becomes.

On that note, we have recently announced the start-up of the world’s 18th-large scale CCS facility.

About 20 other facilities are backed up behind it.

Mr Onley makes passing reference to the hydrogen energy supply chain.

This is another golden opportunity to apply CCS to a fossil fuel, in this case coal, and produce clean, exportable hydrogen which will preserve jobs and create new employment streams in Gippsland.

Incidentally, major proponent Kawasaki Heavy Industries is one of our members, and it is not “risking its money” as Mr Only contends.

It has an enviable track record of commercial success, and like the rest of Japan, sees an energy future in which CCS and hydrogen play a pivotal and co-beneficial part.

Mr Onley states that CCS is not about climate change.

It is.

CCS is endorsed by the highest echelons of science and academia as an essential climate change mitigation technology.

In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change maintains that to reach the Paris climate target of keeping a global temperature rise well below two degrees, it will cost an average of 138 per cent more if CCS is not available.

Added to that, seven out of 11 IPCC models have concluded that two degree targets cannot be reached without CCS.

Clearly, CCS is not optional if climate change is to be arrested.

When the subject of costs and CCS appear, I am always reminded of the comment made by climate change economist, Grantham Research Institute Chair, Lord Nicholas Stern, who says that not doing anything is the most expensive option of all.

To reach our climate change targets, at the same time as generating jobs and sustaining communities, we need all clean energy technologies at large scale — and we need them now.