As climate talks commence in Marakesh in Morrocco this week (COP22) a noted energy expert says Australians need to change the narrative around climate change.
Tony Wood of think tank The Grattan Institute said as it now, Australia would struggle to meet its own emissions reduction levels promised in Paris last year.
That is to reduce CO2 emissions to 26-28 per cent of the levels they were at in 2005.
Mr Wood described the climate change discourse in Australia as toxic, and that many people in government did not even believe anything should be done to tackle it.
He also said the public and government discourse had evolved into a renewables versus fossil fuels debate, when what it should be about was missions reduction and employing whatever methods suitable to reduce then. .
“We need to assess what are the most efficient, low cost way to achieve emissions reduction.
“And if a large percentage of renewable energy sources is the right answer, fabulous.
“But if there are other ways to achieve it, and there may very well be some, then we don’t just necessarily get completely blindsided by having to be totally focused on renewable energy.”
Mr Wood suggested some other ways of reducing could include modifications or retrofitting to fossil fuel power stations and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
“There are things that can be done to existing power stations, if they had the right price signals to reduce emissions they would.
“And there are more things that can be done with gas-fired power stations, even though gas prices have been higher than they’ve been for a long time.
“It could be that technologies associated with carbon capture and storage become more viable if we only thought about emissions and not just reducing emissions.
“Renewables will certainly be a part of the new energy mix, but there’s other things we can do and I think it’s wrong, both federally and at A state level to specifically support renewables when reducing emissions is the name of the game.
World first CCS project launched at a steel project in Abu Dhabi
This focus on renewable energy only has been raised often before, most notably by renewable expert Professor Richard Heinberg who also believes the current focus on renewable energy is skewed towards electricity generation and not on actual energy output.
Professor Heinberg, Fellow In Residence at the Post Carbon Institute in California, USA, said electricity is only 20 per cent of global energy requirements.
The other 80 per cent is used directly in industrial and civil processes and technology breakthroughs are needed in order to replace the massive global infrastructure that supports them.
This supports a world first this week when a steel company in Dubai opened the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) operation associated with a steel plant.
The Al Reyadah project in Abu Dhabi is being hailed as a critical milestone in making industrial CCS a commercial reality.
The project is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar, the clean technology and renewable energy arm of the Abu Dhabi Government.
It will capture CO2 from Emirates Steel manufacturing, transfer it to the Al Reyadah plant for compression and dehydration, and is transported through a buried pipeline to ADNOC’s NEB and Bab oilfields for enhanced oil recovery.
The Australian headquartered Global CCS Institute hailed the project as a success after four years of development.
“CCS is the only technology capable of achieving deep cuts in emissions from necessary industrial production processes such as iron and steel, cement, fertilisers, and natural gas processing so the opening of Al Reyadah is a major achievement in reducing emissions for this industry,” said the institute’s CEO Brad Page.
“The project is another step towards meeting national as well as global climate targets, and further demonstrates CCS as a proven technology which can to reduce CO2 emissions at the lowest possible cost.
“This is a key project in the Institute’s portfolio of large-scale CCS projects in operation or under construction which, by the end of 2017, is expected to have operational CO2 capture capacity of approximately 40 million tonnes each year.”
The Al Reyadah project is expected to capture and store 800,000 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions and is the first iron and steel project of its kind in the world.
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