Victoria calls for fast-tracking CO2 capture

THE Victorian Government has called for the Ministerial Council on Minerals and Petroleum Resources to approve new regulations that will fast-track innovative technology to reduce greenhouse emissions when it meets in Adelaide today.
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Sabian Wilde

Victorian minister for energy, industries and resources Theo Theophanous pre-empted the meeting with a call for the council to support a regulatory framework allowing Victoria to pilot Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) technology.

Theophanous said Victoria was keen to ensure that all governments and industry agreed on the principles behind the effective regulation of CCS.

"Victoria has been the leader when it comes to greenhouse gas technologies," Theophanous said.

"Through a number of recent programs, we've put our money where our mouth is on greenhouse issues, and we want the Commonwealth Government to support our efforts," he said.

Theophanous said Victoria was an ideal location for testing new CO2 capture and storage technology, as it had extensive coal reserves located next to a "world class place to store carbon" – under the Bass Strait seabed.

"There is also the potential for billions of dollars of new investment for the Latrobe Valley coal industry if we get this technology right and it is backed by the right regulatory regime," he said.

"We want this trial to go ahead as soon as possible, so I call on the Commonwealth to join Victoria's push to give companies that are using this technology the certainty that they need," Theophanous said.

Environmental Management News understands that if a regulatory framework is established in Victoria, the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley would be a likely candidate for piloting advanced CCS technology.

Hazelwood is considered Australia's most polluting power plant, using 1950s technology that only achieves 23-30% energy efficiency from the brown coal it uses as fuel.

Hazelwood is owned and operated by International Power, a British energy company, with the Victorian Government holding an 8% stake.

In September 2005, the Victorian Government and International Power signed a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Deed – the first of its kind in Australia – under which the company will be subject to a cap on its greenhouse emissions, and must achieve greenhouse savings of 34 million tonnes.

If the regulatory framework for a pilot CCS program is approved, the technology could play a vital role in allowing Hazelwood to meet its obligations under the agreement.