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Govt hopes for breakthrough on commercial carbon capture and storage

Alexandra Kirk reported this story on Saturday, June 11, 2011 08:07:00

EMILY BOURKE: The Federal Government has pledged up to $52 million to fund what is hoped to be
Australia's first facility to capture and store, underground, greenhouse gas emissions from nearby
industry and electricity generation.

Currently no coal-fired power station in Australia has carbon capture and storage.

It's not a viable technology yet but the Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has set a target for a
commercial breakthrough sometime between 2015 and 2020.

The new funding is for the first phase of a commercial-scale carbon and capture project just south
of Perth.

If successful, the Commonwealth plans to be equal partners with industry and the West Australian
Government in the $1 billion project.

The Minister spoke to Alexandra Kirk.

MARTIN FERGUSON: Carbon capture and storage is going to be tested just like we test solar thermal
or geo-thermal. The Collie south-west hub project is therefore an important opportunity to actually
test carbon capture and storage in terms of how we actually reduce CO2 emissions.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: How much carbon could you store, do you think?

MARTIN FERGUSON: The capacity to story could be up to an amount of 2.4 megatonnes of CO2 a year.
But that's actually going to be dependent on whether or not we can prove our potential storage
capacity.

I hope we do because my own approach is I want to just make a breakthrough on a clean energy
option, be it carbon capture and storage, solar thermal or whatever, we've just got to make
breakthroughs in terms of reducing CO2 emissions.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Where would the carbon come from?

MARTIN FERGUSON: Well it could come for example from an existing coal-fired power station such as
the coal-fired power stations at Collie. Alternatively it could be related to existing or new
industrial opportunities.

You know, there is a proposal down there if everything goes forward successfully for the
development of a new Yurio (phonetic) plant.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And are you sure that the local communities want this?

MARTIN FERGUSON: The Western Australian Government has established side by side with this
initiative, because we're working in partnership with the Western Australian Government and the
private sector, a community consultation process to make sure that the community is properly
consulted.

I'll also remind you that community expects the Government to actually work with industry to put in
place new technology to reduce CO2 emissions.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: How much is actually riding on this project succeeding?

MARTIN FERGUSON: I think the whole Australian community is supportive of the Government actually
investing in clean energy technology and I think we're all very much focused on whether we can make
the breakthrough on carbon capture and storage or geo-thermal or solar thermal or ocean power.

There's a hell of a lot resting on our capacity as a nation to actually prove our clean energy and
that's why we are investing in technology and R & D side by side with a price on carbon plus a
renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020.

That's the three pronged approach that we're pursuing as a government.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Your colleague, Senator John Faulkner has caused a few ripples in the Labor Party
with his stinging critique of Labor's woes. Do you agree with him that the Labor Party is quote
"anaemic" and doesn't have a future unless it changes its culture, abandons its reliance on focus
groups, the self-interest of the party careerists and an unwillingness to tolerate debate.

MARTIN FERGUSON: I'll be honest with you, I have listened to your analysis of John Faulkner's
speech. I'm being frank, I haven't had the chance to actually read John Faulkner's speech because
I've been too focused on the policy agenda of the Government rather than the internal workings of
the Labor Party.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But do you think things need to change?

MARTIN FERGUSON: In due course I'll consider the musings of John Faulkner but at the moment, my
priorities remain focused on policy.

EMILY BOURKE: The Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson speaking there to Alexandra Kirk.