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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
new energy 103 Solar-cell printing trials were recently conducted by Securency International, a banknote printing company. These printable solar cells address challenges faced by traditional solar-panel technology, including the potential to mass-produce the cells cheaply, and install them over large areas with uneven surfaces. LNG AND COAL-SEAM GAS Gladstone in Queensland is the site of a world-first project using coal-seam gas as the principal raw material to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG). This is one of several groundbreaking projects being developed by Australian companies, including Arrow Energy and Origin Energy in partnership with major international oil and gas companies. The Gladstone Liquid Natural Gas project, developed by Santos in partnership with Malaysian company PETRONAS, involves the production of coal-seam gas in central Queensland's Surat and Bowen basins. This will then be transported via a gas pipeline to Gladstone, where it will be liquefied and shipped to overseas markets to provide a clean energy alternative to coal in electrical generation -- the world's first exports of LNG derived from coal-seam gas. Liquefied natural gas is an energy source with significant environmental benefits, including substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions and water use when compared to other fossil fuels. Across the continent in Western Australia, the giant Gorgan field, half-owned by Chevron, with ExxonMobil and Shell as 25-percent partners, is large enough to be a "game changer" in the region. It is purported to have a 40-year lifespan, with AU$64 billion to be delivered to Australia's gross domestic product in the first 30 years, including the direct and indirect employment of 10,000 people. CLEANING UP COAL POWER With 80 percent of Australia's electricity produced by coal-fired power stations, and emerging economies like India and China stepping up their energy generation from these sources, the race is on to produce viable ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions. Geosequestration, or the capture and storage of CO², has been pro- posed as one solution, as it could significantly reduce coal-fired power as a source of greenhouse-gas emissions. But thousands of millions of tonnes of CO² would need to be stored, and because there aren't containers big enough, natural storage facilities such as depleted oil and gas fields are being tested. A portfolio of low emission tech- nologies will be needed to address climate change. Given that coal is a relatively cheap energy source, the extra cost of capturing the CO² and pumping it underground means that coal-generated power could still be cost competitive with other low-emission sources such as wind and solar power. Further work is needed to develop all these technologies. The stakes are high, and the technology for CO² burial still faces many challenges. To that end, Australia has committed funding to what is the largest CO² burial research project in the world -- the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) Otway Project. The project's aim is to demonstrate that CO² can be transported and stored underground in Australian conditions and to develop reliable monitoring systems. The site in the Otway Basin, with its sources of natural CO², depleted gas fields and natural gas fields, is a logical location for a pilot project. The project involves extracting high concentration CO² gas for an existing well and compressing this gas to a supercritical state -- the point at which CO² acts as a liquid. This CO² material is then injected into a depleted natural gas field where it is monitored to determine if the gas has migrated out of the storage reservoir. Stage 1 of the project has been completed, a full seismic survey of the area is being conducted and the project is moving into Stage 2. The chief executive of CO2CRC, Peter Cook, says 60,000 tonnes of CO² has been stored two kilometres underground. "The project has shown that CO² can be safely injected, securely stored and effectively monitored," he says. "Then Stage Two will allow us to improve how we do this in deep reservoir rocks, known as saline formations." CO2CRC is also working on two carbon-capture projects in Victoria: a post-combustion capture project in the Latrobe Valley that focuses on the reduction of emissions from brown-coal power stations, and a pre-combustion pilot project. Hopetoun Falls in the Otway National Park. Holger Leue/Tourism Victoria