Cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50%

10 March 2003


Australia's world leading scientists are on a mission to make deep and long lasting cuts into carbon dioxide emissions from Australia's power plant and gas fields by capturing and storing the greenhouse gas deep underground.

As part of the GEODISC program of the Australian Petroleum Cooperative Research Centre, Geoscience Australia, with the cooperation of the University of New South Wales, has completed an analysis of Australia's potential to geologically store carbon dioxide.

"Australia's stationary energy sources emitted 264 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2000. About 50% of these emissions could potentially be captured and stored through the use of the emerging cutting edge technology of geosequestration", says Dr John Bradshaw, a world leading researcher with Geoscience Australia.

"Geosequestration is a process of capturing and separating carbon dioxide gas from emissions, compressing it into a liquid, transporting it in pipe lines, and injecting and storing it deep underground in ESSCIs (Environmentally Sustainable Site for CO2 Injection)", says Dr John Bradshaw.

He explains that "ESSCIs are environmentally sustainable sites deeper than 800 metres underground where carbon dioxide can be safely injected and stored at temperatures and pressures to keep it in a liquid state".

"Once in the ESSCIs, the carbon dioxide will be trapped in the rocks, dissolving in deep saline waters and reacting with unstable minerals to form secure and non-reactive salts", says Dr Bradshaw.

"We've found 65 potential ESSCIs across Australia where we can safely inject and store carbon dioxide. We currently have the potential to store up to 115 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Our ultimate capacity would allow us to store Australia's total emissions for the next 1600 years", says Dr Bradshaw.

"This is extremely exciting as it has the potential to help reduce Australia's release of greenhouse gases: the increase of atmospheric green house gases being linked to global warming", he adds.

With Federal Government funding, this work will continue as part of the recently announced Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies, also known as CO2CRC that will commence in July 2003.

"Geoscience Australia is committed to helping reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by providing the largest research contribution to the CO2CRC", says Dr Trevor Powell, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Geoscience Australia.

"Geoscience Australia's role will be in the areas of geotechnical site-specific analysis to determine the most favourable ESSCIs", says Dr Powell. "We will also be leading an effort to help define a technical basis for a regulatory regime across Australia that is consistent in all regions. This will assist in the construction of a regional framework for potential implementation of the cutting edge technology".

"We see carbon dioxide geosequestration as a key transition technology, to be used in the interim, while newer fledgling energy technologies are further researched and developed, to cut Australia's carbon dioxide emissions without damaging Australia's economy", says Dr Powell.

Topic contact: media@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 4, 2013