ENERGY and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor will launch a $50 million "carbon capture" fund in Newcastle today, aimed at developing technologies to remove the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the exhaust stacks of coal-fired power stations.
Mr Taylor is scheduled to launch the fund at the University of Newcastle's Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources.
He also intends on visiting the former Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter site chosen by Snowy Hydro for a gas-fired "peaker" power station the Morrison government has said will be built if the private sector does not replace the power lost with the 2023 closure of the Liddell coal-fired station.
Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) - the Morrison government's preferred name for a suite of similar technologies to bury CO2 underground - has been in the development phase for at least 20 years.
The term has been widened to include "enhanced" oil and gas extraction, where CO2 is pumped or "injected" into the seams to push the oil or gas to its collection point.
Mr Taylor referred to the use of CO2 at Chevron's giant Gorgon gas project, saying the offshore WA development will "sequester" or store up to four million tonnes of CO2 annually.
Mr Taylor said yesterday that the International Energy Agency and the International Panel on Climate Change had both described CCUS as "essential" to meeting Paris Agreement targets, and that new US President Joe Biden had pledged to "double down" on CCUS investment.
The $50 million CCUS fund was announced late last year and Mr Taylor said applications for a first round of funding opened today.
Mr Taylor said CCUS would be "critical to achieving net zero emissions" from power generation, natural gas and hydrogen production. It would help lessen emissions from such energy intensive industries as cement and fertiliser production.
"Australia has the potential to be a world leader in geo-sequestration," Mr Taylor said.
"We have the right geology and storage basins."
Environmentalists, however, are generally opposed to CCUS.
Lock The Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said yesterday that CCUS was "a chimera last century", and the equivalent of "fiddling while the countryside burns".
"It's baffling that Angus Taylor insists on burning taxpayers' money on the most expensive, high risk and polluting energy options, when an affordable renewable energy future is within our grasp," Ms Woods said.
She said it was ironic that the government was citing Gorgon as an example as it captured only a third of the CO2 originally claimed, with the rest vented to the air.
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