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Co2 Storage Project Marks Major Milestone

2 April 2008

Co2 Storage Project Marks Major Milestone

The first carbon dioxide storage project in the Southern Hemisphere was launched today in south west Victoria, Australia. New Zealand energy company, Solid Energy, is a major investor and founding member of the company set up to own and operate the Otway project.

The $40 million project, which will see 100,000 tonnes of CO2 injected to a depth of 2 km and then extensively monitored, is designed to demonstrate that carbon storage (geosequestration) is technically and environmentally feasible and is ready for widespread commercial application. The project has been developed over the last 10 years by the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC).

Solid Energy Chief Executive Officer, Dr Don Elder, says: “Today’s launch is a major milestone in global efforts to address climate change and a very significant day for Solid Energy as a key participant in this project since 2004. Carbon capture and storage is already proven technology used in a number of applications around the world and is expected to be commercially utilised in new coal-fired power stations over the next five to 10 years. The importance of the Otway project is that it includes a monitoring programme that is the most comprehensive of its type in the world. It will establish base performance data for use in commercial applications.

“For Solid Energy, the promise of carbon capture and storage includes its potential use in a coal to liquid fuel (diesel) plant that we’re investigating, based on our extensive Southland lignite resources,” says Dr Elder. “The timeframe for this project would see first product some eight to 10 years from the time of a decision to proceed and, given the rising price of oil internationally, carbon capture and storage technology could be a very attractive option to address the CO2 emissions of such a plant. This would be one of a number of options for managing the CO2 footprint including purchasing credits and forestry offsets.

“Coal remains the world’s most abundant source of secure, reliable and affordable energy and is relied on in most countries to support economic prosperity and social well-being. In New Zealand, Solid Energy supplies coal to underpin electricity security and to power many of our key industries and exporters including dairy, steel, cement, timber and industrial processing, as well as schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

“Supplying secure affordable energy to these customers makes a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economic competitiveness. Technology that reduces the emissions from fossil fuel use, coupled with new cleaner ways of using coal, such as coal seam gas we are trialling in the Waikato, will make a big contribution to our energy security in New Zealand,” Dr Elder says.

Solid Energy is contributing more than A$2 million towards the research of the Centre, which is in turn part of a 20-year, NZ$100 million investment the company is making in renewables and new cleaner ways of using coal. Solid Energy is founding shareholder, with several Australian coal, oil and gas companies, in the company set up to own and operate the Otway project and has had a significant role in the technical, legal and commercial aspects of that company.

CO2CRC Chief Executive, Dr Peter Cook, says the Otway Project will play an important role in demonstrating the safety of geosequestration technology to communities, industry and governments worldwide. In addition to demonstrating the deep geological storage of carbon dioxide through the Otway project, CO2CRC is also a leader in the research and demonstration of carbon dioxide capture technologies.

“The CO2CRC Otway project also clearly demonstrates the great advantages of collaborative research and the participation of national and international industry in developing low-emission technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

ENDS

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