Call for emissions standards on fossil-fuel power plants
If you can't store it, cap it, group says. Photo: Paul Jones PDJ
Australia should immediately introduce carbon emissions performance standards for all fossil-fuelled power stations in a bid to limit the output of the greenhouse gases, according to an environmental group.
The Climate Institute called for the standards to be applied to all new plants or those undergoing major expansions or refurbishments, with the proposed limit falling from half a tonne equivalent of carbon dioxide to 200 kilograms after 2020 for new coal plants.
The emission limits proposal, released on the sidelines of the global climate talks in Doha, Qatar, was prompted in part by the failure of Australia's legal and regulatory framework to support carbon capture and storage (CCS) of emissions from the power and other sectors.
According to the report, Perspectives on Carbon Capture and Storage, “CCS policy in Australia struggles to bridge the 'valley of death' between research and deployment.”
That's despite Australia's “substantial commitments to CCS research, through the establishment of the Global CCS Institute and the $1.68 billion CCS Flagships Program and investment in a portfolio of world-leading demonstration projects.”
The report said industry investment in CCS “has been insufficient and sporadic” and six years into the 10-year Coal21 commitment, only about a quarter of funding has been committed.
Some environmental groups remain sceptical the promise of sequestering carbon dioxide will ever be realised at scale and at costs low enough to be adopted by the fossil-fuel industry.
The Climate Institute and other members of the ENGO Network on CCS, though, say the technology must be explored as part of a suite of efforts to curb emissions and reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.
“Tackling climate change requires aggressive and prompt action,” today's report said. “CCS has a valuable role to play in the climate mitigation portfolio, alongside other solutions.”
Today's report also calls for non-peaking gas plants to be required to retrofit to full CCS 15 years after their commissioning.
The newly established Clean Energy Finance Corporation should also have its mandate extended to permit financing of technologies that have negative net emissions, such as CCS with bio-energy, the report said. The $10 billion CEFC currently bars loans to CCS and nuclear energy projects.