Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the technology would be vital if Australia — and the world more broadly — were to become carbon neutral in the coming decades.
Mr Taylor said carban capture and storage had the backing of the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noting there were “just under 30 projects in production” worldwide.
He also defended the government’s support of blue hydrogen prospects, insisting the process could help reduce Australia’s emissions.
“You’ve got to remember the objective of the exercise here is to reduce emissions, not destroy industries,” Mr Taylor said.
“Now it is true there are activists out there that would like to destroy our traditional industries, whether it’s agriculture, resources.
Mr Buckley said the fact that blue hydrogen relied on burying carbon emissions underground should be a red flag for government.
He claimed the technology had failed despite decades of trying by industry, and pointed to the problems that had plagued the carbon capture storage project at the $US54 billion Gorgon gas project off WA’s north-west coast.
Carbon capture a ‘dud’ technology
Mr Buckley said it made no sense to be talking about blue hydrogen given commercial-scale deployment of carbon capture and storage had not actually worked.
“The government and the fossil fuel industry has been so effective at undermining the key enabler of carbon capture and storage, which is a carbon price,” Mr Buckley said.
He said such support, along with money for blue hydrogen and carbon capture storage, amounted to the subsidisation of the oil and gas industry by taxpayers.
At the same time, he said, oil and gas producers around the world were posting multi-billion-dollar profits as energy prices soared to all-time highs.
Hydrogen production ‘must be green’
“Going down the pathway of fossil-fuel-based hydrogen is really dangerous because it’s unlikely you’re going to bury those emissions and you might just end up with more,” Mr Merzian said.
He said its only benefit was in “pretending we can continue to use fossil fuels in the hope that somehow we will be able to bury the problem”.
“It makes it all the more ridiculous when you have an actual opportunity to invest in a zero-emissions production process for hydrogen and it’s available right now,” he said.
Mr Taylor dismissed the criticisms and said the government wanted to keep its options open as the country moved towards net zero by 2050.
He said “every technology that’s available should be in the mix” and highlighted how the government was spending $22 billion on different solutions to cut Australia’s carbon output.
He said the government was focused on having the broadest range of technologies available.
“Our focus is on the projects, not the companies.”
Natural gas a ‘pathway’ forward
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association deputy chief executive Damian Dwyer said the industry was committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 and noted it had already spent $5 billion on decarbonisation initiatives.
Mr Dwyer said technologies such as carbon capture and storage would be “critically important” in helping Australia meet its goals.
He said Australia was particularly well-placed to use carbon capture storage, suggesting the country had “known high-quality, stable geological storage basins, existing infrastructure, world-class technical expertise and regulatory regimes”.
“In a similar way, natural gas is a pathway to a large-scale and innovative commercial hydrogen industry,” Mr Dwyer said.
He said Australia’s upstream oil and gas industry was well placed to assist in the development of a large-scale and innovative commercial hydrogen industry.