Carbon Capture and Storage in Gippsland and the Longford Meeting

Forum at Longford

A federal and state funded seismic survey is currently being carried out off coast of the Ninety Mile at Golden Beach. The Department of Earth Resources (formerly the Mines Department) stated: “The CarbonNet Project will conduct a marine seismic survey in Bass Strait in early 2018. The purpose of the survey is to gain deeper knowledge of the underlying geology of the area to help confirm the potential for geological carbon dioxide (CO2) storage…Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is being explored as part of a suite of solutions with the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes that CCS can play an important role in helping to meet global emission reduction targets.”

This is a quaint way of saying governments are exploring their preferred option in the ‘suite’ – that of capturing the carbon dioxide produced in electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley – and justifying the expense that it is supported by the IPCC. Simply stated CCS in Gippsland is a ruse to prolong the life of the valley generators. It involves capturing the CO2 at the source, converting it to a liquid, transporting it to a storage location – possibly off Golden Beach – and injecting it underground. This is a project that is inefficient, horrendously expensive and does not work. Taxpayer funds spent on this project amounts to another subsidy to the fossil fuel industry.

A recent critique of CCS by Simon Holmes à Court noted there were only 2 small CCS plants operating on coal generation worldwide and that they “were built as demonstration projects, funded in an era when optimism for CCS was high and renewables costs were two-to-three times dearer than now. The owners of both projects have declined to invest further in the technology, having learnt the hard way that CCS doubles a coal power station’s capital and operating costs and is an outrageously expensive way to cut carbon pollution.”

Rather than sincerely tackling climate change this project is just part of a government, heavily influenced by the Minerals Council of Australia, picking and backing the losing option in their ‘suite’. The Australian National Auditor Office recently condemned government investment in the CCS process. It has been described as “dud investments in clean coal” with $450 million invested so far and “nothing achieved”. The CarbonNet survey continues this process.

Last Saturday a forum to discuss the CCS survey was held in the Longford Hall. An organiser “estimated that there were around 70 people at this first meeting… There were two speakers, Kerrin Schelfhout (a local from Seaspray who played a role in the Lock the Gate campaign against coal seam gas) and Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth… ” For further details contact