Australia’s leading carbon capture and storage (CCS) research organisation CO2CRC has announced a AUS$45m ($31.3m) final investment decision for the third phase of a CCS project in south west Victoria.
The Otway National Research Facility the world’s largest CCS demonstration project, with more than 80,000 tonnes of CO2 injected and stored in a variety of geological formations.
The AUS$100m ($69.5m) project is also Australia’s first demonstration of the deep geological storage of CO2.
CO2CRC said the decision follows the successful finalisation of all project-related technical and scientific work programmes, operational arrangements, regulatory approvals and funding.
The third phase – Otway Stage 3 Monitoring and Verification project – will develop sub-surface storage technologies which reduce the cost and environmental footprint of long-term CO2 storage monitoring.
At the same time, the project will provide regulators and communities with ongoing confidence that CO2 injected deep underground is permanently contained within the bounds of the storage reservoir in large-scale CCS operations. Technical and scientific work programmes are expected to be completed by June 2022.
The project involves the drilling of five new wells equipped with the latest technologies in fibre optics sensing and sub-surface gauges.
Through the injection of 15,000 tonnes of CO2, CO2CRC will test and validate subsurface monitoring technologies including seismic data acquisition techniques, pressure tomography imaging and the closely related technique of pressure inversion.
The on-demand, permanent monitoring solution will enable faster acquisition and continuous transmission and analysis of plume monitoring data.
This will significantly reduce the frequency of the conventional, surface land or offshore monitoring surveys currently required during the injection and post-injection phases of a CCS project.
While detailed techno-economic studies will be performed as part of the project, initial estimates show a cost saving of up to 75% of monitoring costs over traditional monitoring technologies.
David Byers, CEO of CO2CRC, said the Otway Stage 3 Project brings together Australian and international CCS researchers, industry, government and regulators in a unique collaboration.
“Industry and researchers have worked closely over the past four years to develop the intended scientific objectives and technological applications from the project.”
“The investment in infrastructure will transform the Otway National Research Facility into the best CO2 storage testing facility in the world.”
“It will mean Australia is well-placed to lead efforts to dramatically cut the cost of CCS and thereby accelerate its global deployment,” he said.
Byers said CCS is the only feasible technology that can deliver deep emissions reductions in many industrial processes that are vital to the global economy, such as LNG, steel, cement and chemicals production.
He continued, “CCS can also be applied to coal and gas fired power plants, providing dispatchable low emissions generation capacity to complement the increased deployment of intermittent renewables, and in the production of low emissions hydrogen for heat and transport.”
“Forty years ago, over 80% of the world’s energy was supplied by oil, gas and coal. Last year, oil, gas and coal still supplied more than 80% of the world’s energy.”
“The global energy mix is unlikely to shift easily or quickly from the fossil energy sources that currently dominate, given their huge scale.”
“Technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are commercially viable and ready to play a vital role in delivering cost-effective emissions reductions by transforming the global energy system without trashing it.”
“It is vital we get it right. The International Energy Agency points to the need for CCS to contribute to 14% of global emission reductions if climate change is to be kept to no more than two degrees by 2060.”
The project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Education Investment Fund (EIF), COAL21 through ANLEC R&D, BHP and the Victorian State Government.