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Queensland to review CCS after rejecting Glencore plan

  • : Coal, Emissions
  • 24/05/28

Australia's Queensland state government will review the long-term suitability of carbon capture and storage (CCS) following the rejection of a demonstration project planned by commodities producer and trading firm Glencore.

Queensland's Department of Environment, Science and Innovation late last week rejected the environmental impact statement for Glencore's CTSCo Surat Basin CCS project, which aimed to demonstrate carbon capture from a coal-fired power station and the permanent storage of carbon dioxide. The project was unsuitable to proceed because of the potential impact on groundwater resources in the Great Artesian Basin, the department said.

"The department's final decision on the EIS acknowledges the importance of the Great Artesian Basin to multiple stakeholders and makes it clear that other carbon capture and storage projects will not be viable in the Great Artesian Basin," it added.

The aquifer is used for agriculture, irrigation and stock watering, with Glencore's proposal sparking strong criticism from farmers and local groups. The decision to reject the project was a step in the right direction but not enough, said Queensland Farmers' Federation chief executive Jo Sheppard.

"We know that there are currently two companies with exploration permits for CCS in the Great Artesian Basin and we know that other companies globally are looking at the basin as a cheap way to conduct CCS at an industrial scale to manage their emissions," Sheppard said. "In the absence of federal policy, the Queensland government can and must now take a leadership role and put regulations in place to protect the Queensland component of the Great Artesian Basin from further CCS bids."

The rejection meant the state government has now "effectively banned" CCS projects in Queensland, Glencore said.

"It's a missed opportunity for Queensland and sends mixed messages on emissions reduction to industry who are looking to invest in low-emission technologies, including CCS," the company noted. "It's now up to the Queensland government to explain how it's going to meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets in the absence of CCS technology for heavy industry."

The state government will assess the suitability of CCS in the state following the "logical conclusion" on the CTSCo project, Queensland premier Steven Miles said on 27 May. "Cabinet will now have a conversation about what we think the longer term and wider application of those concerns should be. That is whether CCS should be allowed and under what circumstances."

Queensland last month approved two separate laws setting renewable energy and emissions reduction targets over the next decade. It set net greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 30pc below 2005 levels by 2030, 75pc by 2035 and zero by 2050. The government will receive advice from an expert panel on the measures needed to reduce emissions. It will need to develop and publish sector plans by the end of 2025 with annual progress reports to Queensland's parliament.

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