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Globally, the momentum surrounding climate change has only increased.

The long-awaited shift is now underway from a period of high ambition to one of action. Driven by the public and stakeholders, governments and companies are accelerating toward net-zero emissions.

Renewable energy and electrification, hydrogen, energy efficiency and other methods to combat climate change are taking off at unprecedented pace. The story of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is a necessary complement to other climate solutions, is no different.

Addressing a Global CCS Institute event in Darwin recently, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Madeleine King, outlined this dual opportunity, saying “We can only get to net zero by ensuring our economy remains strong and energy is affordable and reliable for businesses and households.”

And “key among industry efforts to reduce emissions is carbon capture, utilisation and storage.”

The Northern Territory, already taking steps to become a regional CCS leader, is set to gain from its deployment in Australia and through Southeast Asia.

At the same event, over 150 business leaders, researchers and industry experts from Australia and South-East Asia gathered to share updates from CCS projects currently in development.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, CCS covers a range of technologies that can capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, otherwise known as CO2, from any large source and permanently store it underground. CCS can be applied to a range of industries that emit greenhouse gases, including oil and gas, the manufacturing of cement, fertilisers, and steel, and hydrogen production. 

CCS can also be used to pull CO2 directly out of the atmosphere in a process called Direct Air Capture.

Once the CO2 is captured and separated from other gases, it is compressed and transported to a storage site usually by pipeline and now also by ship. From there it is injected for permanent storage into very deep underground rock formations, similar to those that have safely contained oil and gas in place for millions of years.

Scientists the world over – perhaps most notably in recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – agree that CCS is absolutely essential to achieving our shared climate goals and maintaining a liveable planet for generations to come.

Data collected by the Global CCS Institute continues to highlight the enormous growth across carbon capture and storage around the world and right here in Australia. 32 facilities are already operating globally, with a further 200 facilities in development across a multitude
of industries. 

For Australia, this poses a great opportunity to help the world decarbonise while also sustaining and creating jobs and industries, particularly in our regions.

Australia’s trading partners, including the likes of Japan and South Korea, are looking to reduce the emissions associated with the fuels they already use, notably natural gas. Using CCS to process gas with fewer associated emissions will prove to be rewarding on both a business and climate front.

On a medium-term horizon, clean hydrogen and ammonia (which do not produce CO2 emissions when used as a fuel) will likely be a large global market, with the fuel source used in everything from heating and cooling to heavy industry. Australia, due to its existing oil and gas expertise, has an early hydrogen advantage and could advance to become a global leader.

Our manufacturing industries – many reliant on fossil fuels to create their products – will likely need CCS to decarbonise and sell low-emissions products into the market.

Fortunately, Australia is also broadly blessed with vast and high-quality geological storage resources. As our neighbours with limited geological storage deploy carbon capture, Australia can offer access to our storage resources for a fee, a business model many are already pursuing globally.

NT Gas Taskforce chair Alister Trier says collaboration is key to advancing CCS in the NT.

“We’ve partnered with the CSIRO, industry and business to accelerate realisation of one of the world’s largest CCUS hubs that will fast-track advanced manufacturing opportunities, unlock our hydrogen potential, enable our valuable LNG sectors to continue and grow, while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint and propelling sought-after global decarbonisation solutions.”

These CCS applications will have major environmental benefits and will be invaluable in reducing our emissions and staving off the worst impacts of climate change. With the application of CCS, we also expect positive social and economic benefits.

Investing in CCS will support
jobs in the construction, operation, and maintenance of CCS facilities.
A typical CCS project is estimated to create 2,500 jobs during construction and 200 – 300 employees during operation and maintenance and will support jobs in the supply chain. 

More than that, CCS can help align emissions-intense industries with net-zero climate goals and facilitate a sustainable transition for the communities that host them.

It is encouraging to see the Northern Territory Government developing policies and legislation to encourage and foster CCS development, and more encouraging still to see the business community taking steps to develop CCS projects which will have such important climate and economic benefits.