Carbon capture explainer

On the back of the COP26 in Glasgow, Jarad Daniels, the new CEO of the Melbourne-headquartered Global CCS Institute, talks about carbon capture trends.

What exactly is carbon capture and storage (CCS)?

CCS is a suite of technologies that capture and permanently store large quantities of CO2 from a range of sources and industries, preventing the CO2 from contributing to global warming. It involves three major steps: capturing CO2 at the source, compressing it for transport and then storing it deep into a geological formation where it will stay permanently.

Where can CCS be applied?

Across a range of industries and sectors, including natural gas and coal in the power sector, hydrogen production, cement, steel, chemicals and fertilisers. CCS also includes negative emissions technologies – direct air capture and bioenergy with CCS, both of which capture CO2 from the atmosphere – which are expected to play an increasingly important role as we get closer to 2050.

What outcomes came from COP26 regarding CCS?

COP26 was billed as vitally important in the broader context of mitigating the worst of climate change. We’ve seen new net-zero pledges and the strengthening of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Other key points include climate finance for the world’s most vulnerable and the finalisation of the Paris Rulebook, particularly surrounding Article 6 and carbon markets. For CCS, these issues are pivotal as the sector needs to see a massive scale up in the next three decades if the world is to meet our shared climate goals.

Where are the CCS opportunities for Victoria?

Victoria has strong CCS credentials with research capability, an exciting major CCS project and a global think-tank based in Melbourne, which I now have the pleasure of leading.

The big opportunity for CCS surrounds the CarbonNet Project. Based in the Gippsland region, CarbonNet is actually the most technically advanced CCS Hub under development in Australia. The project aims to integrate multiple CO2 capture projects in the Latrobe Valley, transporting that CO2 via pipeline and injecting into world-class geological sites for safe and permanent storage. Once operational, CarbonNet will be pivotal to decarbonising local industry and unlocking a hydrogen export market, both of which will be important in sustaining and growing Gippsland’s regional economy.

Partnering with CarbonNet is the Otway International Test Centre, which has stored CO2 successfully for over a decade, and the Peter Cook Centre for CCS Research at the University of Melbourne.

How has CCS uptake grown on a state, national and international level?

The Institute recently released the Global Status of CCS 2021, which charts the growth for CCS over the past year. There are currently 27 large projects in operation and four more under construction. In the report, we highlight that the CO2 capture capacity of CCS facilities under various stages of development globally has grown from 75 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 111 Mtpa – a 48% increase over 2020. In Australia, there has been positive policy progress, with funding announcements and the inclusion of CCS under the Emissions Reduction Fund, which will provide a financial incentive for project developers.

How has CCS action abroad shown what’s possible in Victoria?

The progress of CCS in Europe and the US underscores that with the right policies and incentives, investment in CCS will happen. In both regions, supportive policy environments and financial incentives such as carbon pricing or crediting has given investors and developers confidence to make long-term commitments to projects, which is good for the climate and great for local businesses, jobs and economies. Victoria has specific CCS laws and regulations and is well placed to be part of broader CCS deployment nationally.

How’s your Institute working with the Victorian Government?

The Victorian Government is a member of the Institute and a partner in our mission to drive the uptake of CCS. As an international think tank, we’re able to connect CarbonNet to other international projects in order to share learnings, experience and information. The government is playing a key role in investigating the opportunities present for local industry and jobs through CCS and the Institute is pleased to play a supportive role.

How is your time at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington (working with many countries, NGOs and companies on technology development) shaping your new role as the Institute’s CEO?

My time there has taught me that accelerating deployment of advanced technologies takes concerted effort from both public and private sectors working together. Governments have critical roles to play to fund research and development and to set durable policies that enable private sector involvement. Industry must find ways to invest and build, own, and operate the advanced technologies. Engaging the financial sector is key as well, especially when you consider the magnitude of our climate challenge. I’m excited to be at the Institute, which has both public and private members and is extremely well positioned to help accelerate CCS deployment globally.

Jarad’s takeaways from the Global Status of CCS (GCCSI) report

The report, published by the Institute, addresses how we can better understand climate, energy and CCS.

Three takeaways are:

1. There's momentum behind CCS – supportive policy, investment and new projects are being announced and moving into development.

2. The CCS landscape is changing quickly, with new applications – cement, for example - and trends like large-scale CCS hubs continue to emerge.

3. Much more needs to be done around the world. Although the growth we’re seeing is great, we’ll need one hundred times more CCS globally by 2050, more policy action and much more investment.