“Innovation in extracting or utilising our abundant energy resources so they can be used domestically at least cost is a priority. Innovation in areas where technology change will assist Australia’s export advantage should also be a priority”

–   2015 Energy White Paper

Low Emissions – An international priority

Underpinned by current policy initiatives, the 2015 energy white paper prepares Australia for a low emissions future. The strategy foreshadows different approaches to both the target of 20% renewable energy by 2020 and on-going reductions from fossil fuel power generation emissions. These are premised on maintaining:

  • Strength in Australian energy resources and export markets
  • Access to low cost energy with transparency in the local markets and
  • Continuous improvement in energy productivity and sustainability in the longer term.

CCS remains essential

In response to continuing need for global emissions reduction, International Energy Agency analysis delivers increasing granularity with plausible scenarios requiring about 14% reduction from fossil fuel emissions to come from CCS. It recognises that the technology will only be deployable in particular circumstances proximate to local geological storage resources and viable cost structures.  Domestically, forecasts acknowledge some contribution from decreasing demand in the local electricity market, however, for fossil fuels, both carbon capture and storage and higher efficiency are the target means of addressing lower emissions.

Lower Emissions – The Domestic Australian Reality

While CCS may not be deployable in the short term (<10 years), it is likely to remain a candidate for Australian deployment in the longer term and needs enabling support.

Three proponents of CCS demonstration projects remain active for Australia:

ANLEC R&D has developed a portfolio of research shaped by the priorities for reducing investment risk for these three basins. While execution of the demonstrations are behind their original schedules, research investment by ANLEC R&D has been prudent and kept pace with their development.

Developing the CO2 Storage Research Portfolio

The focus of the first phase of ANLEC R&D activity (2010-2015), for each of the sites, has been to build the knowledge of the geological model and reservoir dynamic processes supplemented by data gathering to supplement and reduce risks essential to the Site Selection phase of a commercial project.

This existing research base can now provide the means to anticipate a third dimension of an operational phase by identifying and developing the technologies necessary to monitor and manage each project throughout the injection phase. These include

  • Risk management and mitigation processes
    • to steer MMV choice, manage key storage risks, and anticipate potential leak scenarios with pre-developed mitigation strategies.
  • Task prioritorization
    • through assessing value of information, and optimization by critical path analysis techniques with whole project learning technology.
  • Economic optimization framework
    • to identify critical pathways in surface transport and well design to optimize volume and injection infrastructure.
  • Develop expertise in non-standard geophysical monitoring technologies appropriate for plume detection
    • such as surface-borehole electromagnetic technologies, gravity both surface and borehole, spontaneous-potential technologies adapted from hydrogeological and geothermal practises and marine monitoring technologies appropriate for the needs of each site.

Assisting the Australian Demonstration proponents engage in networks and experience to identify best practise and develop the key technologies of relevance will assist and accelerate implementation of successful storage projects in Australian conditions.