South Australian blackouts demonstrate need to explore alternative energy options
With questions surrounding the reliability of the energy sector following recent blackouts in South Australia and high temperatures in New South Wales, CEO for not for profit research group CO2CRC, Tania Constable has stated power shortages demonstrate a need to explore alternative options - not just renewables, to provide clean and affordable energy in Australia.
While Constable embraced the role of renewables as part of Australia’s clean energy system, she was concerned by the risk of potential power outages during the summer heat, not just in South Australia, but around the country.
“We are the world’s largest exporter of coal, and yet we haven’t built a single advanced coal power plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS), which removes more than 90 percent of emissions,” said Constable.
“We see real potential to retrofit some coal and gas power stations with CCS in Australia, and CO2CRC will release a costed report at the end of February that will examine retrofitting options”.
CCS, which stands for “carbon capture and storage”, traps waste carbon dioxide released by producers, including fossil fuel power plants, and deposits it in storage areas such as geological formations underground - limiting the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
The report suggested that CCS technology could be used to ‘decarbonise’ emissions-intensive industries including natural gas producers, steelmaking, and chemical and textile industries, allowing Australia to work towards its emissions reductions targets at a lower economic cost.
“Australia’s continued economic prosperity and competitiveness depends on access to all forms of energy and strong industries. We need to deal with the mitigation of greenhouse emissions from these activities and prudent early planning relating to CCS deployment is a priority,” the Minerals Council of Australia reported University of Queensland’s Professor Chris Greig, leader of the report, as saying.
Carbon capture and storage is not without its detractors though, with Greenpeace describing CCS as an, “unproven, risky and expensive technology” in a 2016 press release.
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