Norway – Europes largest producer of oil – is betting on carbon capture to cut emissions.
The Scandinavian country, famous for using its oil-resources to create the world largest sovereign wealth fund, is turning to carbon capture to reduce its own emissions
A new plan, currently working its way through government, would use 25 billion kroner (£2.12 billion) to cut emissions from twenty waste-to-energy power plant and two large cement works.
The scheme would see captured emissions compressed, loaded onto ships, and transported hundreds of miles offshore to buried below the seabed.
The scheme is ambitious and there is some scepticism in the face of forecasted cost overruns. If the scheme went ahead then the government would need to step in to cover 80% of the projected cost of the scheme, with the remaining 20% coming from Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Equinor. Companies with well-established engineering expertise in off-shore drilling.
However, the huge carbon capture and storage (CCS) project is about more than reducing emissions. The hope is that by developing new CCS tech Norway could lower its cost and open up a new markets.
With other European countries also looking to the technology Norway hopes to position itself to become the place where the continent’s emissions get buried.
Norways Capture Carpture Past
This is not the first time that Norway has pioneered carbon capture.
In response to Norway’s carbon-tax Statoil (now Equinor) was the first company in the world to create carbon capture plants designed primarily for reducing emissions in 1991.
However, more recent schemes have ended prematurely.
The countries flagship ‘CCS project’ would have captured emissions from gas-power-stations and oil refiners, was scrapped due to spiralling costs and unanticipated complexity.
Since then the technology behind carbon capture has leapt forward and Norway finds itself with limited other options if it wishes to continue operating its waste-to-energy plants into the next decade while meeting its emission commitments.
If the scheme does go ahead it will be one of the most expensive in the world – costing approximately $140 per metric ton of carbon. However, Prime Minister Erna Solberg explained in an interview earlier month with bnnbloomberg.ca that “for Norway, CCS has never been considered as something socio-economically profitable”.
Instead “the question [is] does this provide the learning effect needed to give CCS the chance to be developed in the future, and will the fact that we develop this create the basis for other business activities?”
The Norweigan parliament will decide whether to back the scheme this October.