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New CSIRO Roadmap Urges Use of Carbon Capture and Utilisation Tech

Image Credits: CSIRO, Press Release

The CO2 Utilisation Roadmap explores the opportunities presented by emerging carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) technologies for Australia to support new industries and reduce carbon emissions. The Roadmap identifies how emerging CCU technologies could be used to support growth opportunities in Australia’s food and beverages industry, the creation of zero or low carbon building products and materials, and position Australia for the export of low emissions chemicals and fuels.

The Chief Executive of CSIRO stated that CCU technologies can help transition Australia towards a lower emissions future while creating economic growth. He noted that no single technology will take the nation to net-zero – the scale of our challenge in adapting to climate change and decarbonising Australian industries requires us to draw on every available tool.

The CE also noted that the development and demonstration of high abatement technologies like CCU have the potential to have a significant impact, as part of our broader efforts to both reduce emissions and lift the competitiveness of our industries.

Currently, industries such as cement, steel, plastics and heavy transport still rely on fossil fuels or have inherent emissions in their processes and are traditionally ‘hard to abate’. These industries are unable to rely on renewable technologies alone and account for about a sixth of Australia’s emissions and around a third of global emissions.

CCU technologies capture CO2 from the waste streams of industrial processes, or directly from the atmosphere, and convert it into useful new products, ranging from synthetic fuels to food and beverages, chemicals, and building materials.

The Associate Director of CSIRO Futures stated that Australia is well-placed to lead in CCU technologies. Analysis shows that Australia is well-positioned to capitalise on the CCU opportunity and become a leader in this emerging area. Australia’s advantages include the capacity to implement the low-cost, low-emission electricity needed for CCU technologies, a track record for developing internationally competitive export industries, and established international bilateral agreements on low emissions technologies.

The Roadmap draws on extensive national and international consultation, modelling and analysis to determine the key advantages, barriers, and considerations to support scale-up for identified areas of CCU opportunity for Australia. By acting as a potential major user of hydrogen and helping to reduce CO2 emissions, CCU complements CSIRO’s investment in Australia’s hydrogen and emissions reduction research through the Hydrogen Industry and Towards Net Zero Emissions Missions.

CSIRO worked with government and industry to develop the CO2 Utilisation Roadmap including the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Woodside, Santos, BHP, Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers, APA Group, Mineral Carbonation International, the Victorian Government, KBR, Advisian, Australian Trade and Investment Commission and CO2 Value Australia.

Recent research notes that the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is indispensable for building a sustainable and just future for all humans and our planet. The SDGs are global goals. However, their implementation equally calls for action by a variety of actors in government, business, and civil society.

Thus, policy-making, as well as industrial innovation efforts, need to be designed to facilitate rather than hinder the implementation of the SDGs. Consequently, it is necessary to ensure that the possible environmental, economic, and societal impacts of technological innovations aiming for public support and funding in research, development, and market implementation are aligned with the respective objectives of the SDGs.

Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) applications are an example of such innovations. By capturing and utilizing CO2, they are intended to have positive impacts on the economy, society and environment. Next to industries’ own efforts to advance such technologies, CCU is currently funded by governments in several countries, and such funding is likely to increase.

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