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Invest in CCS before Renewables, BHP Tells Leaders

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

BHP Billiton has called for ­climate policy that does not favour renewable energy over carbon capture and storage, calling on governments to promote and invest in CCS as a way to help reduce emissions, meet climate targets and support global jobs.

In the wake of Malcolm Turnbull’s call at the National Press Club last week for energy policy to be “technology agnostic”, BHP has called for more ­action from governments around the world to support CCS, which it says will be crucial to meeting targets agreed to in Paris in 2015.

The miner is keen to see policy that does not favour renewables over other low emissions technologies in the way Australia’s Renewable Energy Target does.

“We have seen the successful growth of some low carbon energy sources, such as wind and solar, by incentivising its uptake,” BHP’s climate practice lead Graham Winkelman told The Australian yesterday.

“To ensure we reduce emissions and maintain energy security, we need a level playing field for all forms of low carbon technology. Without policy parity, CCS will be disadvantaged as it seeks to scale up.”

The comments follow a blog posting on the company’s website by its climate change head, Fiona Wild, calling on more government action to support CCS.

“In an ideal world, there would be mechanisms, such as a carbon price as part of a suite of policy solutions, to help steer commercial investment into low emission technologies like CCS,” Dr Wild said.

“In the nearer term, industry and government must work to develop pilot projects, demonstration plants and ‘first of a kind’ commercial scale operations.”

While supporting the Prime Minister’s call for an approach that does not favour renewable energy, BHP has not backed his call for cleaner-burning coal plants, known as high efficiency, low emissions plants that are becoming more prevalent in Asia.

It is believed the miner sees CCS as more likely to contribute to emissions reduction in Australia because it can be fitted to existing plants.

HELE plants are seen as more fitting for developing nations that are expecting power demand growth and need to build new baseload plants.

In the absence of a level policy playing field, BHP believes there is a role for government in taking on some of the development risk, as has happened at the Petra Nova plant being built in Texas and the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan.

“In some demonstration and first of a kind CCS projects, government support has helped to catalyse private sector investment,” Dr Winkelman said.

“As costs for CCS continue to decrease, the business case will improve.”

Dr Wild said CCS was not just for power stations but could cut emissions from the industrial sector, which represent a quarter of global emissions.

“More than half of these originate from the chemical and thermal processes used to produce steel and cement,” she said,

“If we can deploy (CCS) widely, we will maintain access to energy while supporting the jobs of millions of people around the world in the oil, gas, coal, steel and cement-making sectors.”

BHP has committed $C20 million to a CCS knowledge centre in Saskatchewan and has invested $US7.4m in a joint venture with Peking University to explore the potential for CCS in steel production, where vast amounts of carbon are emitted when coking coal and iron ore are heated in blast furnaces. (The Australian)

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