According to the UN Panel on Climate Change, the capture, transport and storage of CO₂ emissions from the combustion of fossil energy and industrial production is crucial in order to reduce the world's greenhouse gas emissions. There are several CCS projects in operation worldwide. However, CCS is still expensive, and there is a need for additional technological development. The work on CCS is therefore largely related to the development of technology and the facilitation of cost reductions. For some industries, especially cement production and waste incineration, the capture and storage of CO₂ is the only way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) has decided to support the realization of Longship, Norway's full-scale project for CCS, and the project is currently under construction. Norway has suitable conditions for facilitating the capture, transport and storage of CO₂. If we succeed in capturing and storing CO₂, it will be significantly cheaper to achieve the climate goals. Longship contributes in making this more feasible and less costly.
CO₂ management involves capturing, transporting and storing CO₂ from power production or industrial processes. The term Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is widely used.
The purpose of CCS is to limit the quantity of CO₂ emissions released into the atmosphere by capturing CO₂ and then storing it securely.
CO₂ can be captured from flue (waste) gases at power plants and from industrial production. It is also possible to separate CO₂ directly from natural gas during processing to achieve the required quality before the gas is transported to customers by pipeline or ship. Additionally, CO₂ can be extracted directly from air, so-called direct air capture (DAC). Capturing CO₂ from flue gas is more expensive than capturing CO₂ from natural gas. DAC is the most expensive of these technologies.
There are several available technologies for capturing CO₂ from flue gas, and some of these are being tested at the technology centre for CO₂ capture at Mongstad. The world's first full-scale facility for CO₂ capture from coal power opened in Canada in October 2014. More information on various capture methods can be found here.
CO₂ in larger quantities can be transported by pipeline or by ship. The best option generally depends on the quantity of CO₂ to be transported and the distance between the CO₂ source and storage site. Transport by ship is better suited to smaller quantities and greater distances, whereas transport by pipeline transport is better suited to larger quantities and shorter distances.
There is significant potential for large-scale storage of CO₂ under the Norwegian continental shelf, and it is vital to ensure that the CO₂ does not leak from where it is stored. Thus, storing CO₂ under the seabed is the most secure option in Norway. There are large reservoirs at great depth that provide suitable pressure and temperature conditions while preventing the CO₂ from moving up the rock and sand layers towards the seabed. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has compiled a CO2 storage atlas for the Norwegian continental shelf.
Norway has extensive experience with CO₂ management. Since 1996, CO₂ from gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf has been captured and reinjected into sub-seabed formations. The CO₂ management projects at Sleipner and Snøhvit are the only CO₂ management projects in operation in Europe today and are unique in the offshore industry:
- Since 1996, nearly one million tonnes of CO2 per year has been separated during processing of natural gas from the Sleipner Vest field, and stored in the Utsira formation.
- Since 2019, CO2 from natural gas production at the Utgard field has also been separated out at the Sleipner Vest platform and stored in the Utsira formation.
- Since 2008, the Snøhvit facility on Melkøya has been separating CO2 from the well stream before the gas is chilled to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG). The CO2 is transported back to the Snøhvit field by pipeline and injected into a subsea formation. During normal operations, up to 700 000 tonnes of CO2 a year is stored here.
CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM)
The Technology Centre at Mongstad (TCM) is the world's largest facility for testing and refining CO₂ capture technologies. TCM, which is owned by the Norwegian state, Equinor, Shell and Total, has been operating since 2012 and provides an arena for the development, testing and qualification of CO₂ capture technologies at an industrial scale. TCM is designed for long-term operations, with two plants testing two different CO₂ capture technologies:
- Amine-based technology, which uses a water-based solution of amines to absorb CO₂ from flue gas.
- Ammonia technology, which uses chilled ammonia as the solvent for absorbing CO2 from the flue gas.
The TCM facility was designed to be versatile enough to test CO₂ capture using flue gas either from the combined heat and power (CHP) plant or from the refinery at Mongstad. The different testing opportunities make the facility very flexible. So far, the companies Aker, Alstom, Shell Cansolv, Carbon Clean Solutions, IoN Engineering, Membrane Technology Research (MTR), TDA Research and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have all used the test facility. You can read more about the facility at TCM's website here.
Research and technology development
CCS requires large investments. New technologies can help lower investment and operating costs and make this climate tool relevant for additional emission sources. In Norway, funding for CCS research is provided through the CLIMIT programme. CLIMIT provides part-financing for projects that develop CCS technologies, supporting projects in all stages of the innovation chain, from research and development to demonstration. The program also provides funding for social science studies, especially those that are relevant to the development of CO₂ management in Norway.
Projects that have received CLIMIT funding have delivered significant results for CCS development, both in Norway and internationally. Several technologies that will be used in the Norwegian full-scale CCS project, Longship (Langskip), have been developed with support from CLIMIT. A good example is Aker Carbon Capture's capture technology, which will be used at the capture facility at Norcem's cement factory in Brevik. This technology has been developed over many years with support from CLIMIT and in several phases, from early trials to full-scale testing before commercialization. The product is now offered in the market as a competitive technology for capturing CO₂. CLIMIT is also an important instrument for fostering new projects that can benefit from the establishment of Longship's infrastructure for transport and storage of CO₂. Many CO₂ emitters are now looking at the possibility of capturing CO₂ and then storing it in the North Sea. It is possible to apply for these kinds of preparatory studies through CLIMIT. In 2016, a research centre for environmentally friendly energy (FME) for CO₂ management, the Norwegian CCS Research Centre (NCCS), was also established. The centre is managed by Sintef Energy and receives partial funding from the Research Council in the period 2016 to 2024.
Full-scale demonstration facility
On the basis of the CCS strategy set out in the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy’s Proposition No. 1 to the Parliament (2014–2015), Gassnova carried out a pre-feasibility study in 2015 that identified several emission sources and storage locations that were technically suitable for carbon capture and storage, as well as industry actors that were interested in participating in future studies. The pre-feasibility study focused on existing land-based emission sources that emitted more than 400,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year. A wide-ranging assessment of CO₂ storage possibilities on the Norwegian continental shelf and coordination of storage with other countries were also conducted. In addition, transport by pipeline and ship was assessed.
In 2016, planning continued with a feasibility study of current demonstration projects in Norway. The purpose of the feasibility study was to arrive at least one technically feasible full-scale CCS chain with associated cost estimates. Three industry players conducted feasibility studies for capturing CO₂ at their industrial facilities. Norcem assessed the possibility of CO₂ capture at its cement factory in Brevik, Yara assessed capture of CO₂ from three different sources at the ammonia plant at Herøya in Porsgrunn, and Fortum Oslo Varme (FOV) assessed CO₂ capture from its waste incineration facility at Klemetsrud in Oslo. Gassco conducted a ship transport study, whereas Equinor conducted a feasibility study for CO₂ storage at three different locations on the Norwegian continental shelf.
The feasibility studies were completed in the summer of 2016. The results from the feasibility studies show that it is technically feasible to realize a flexible CCS chain in Norway, in which CO₂ emissions are first transported by ship from capture facilities to a hub connected by pipeline and then to a safe geological storage deep below the seabed. A storage with a large capacity and a flexible transport solution can help facilitate CO₂ capture from other emission sources. These will benefit from the investment in a CO₂ infrastructure.
Based on the results from the feasibility studies, the government decided to continue the planning of a full-scale CCS demonstration project in Norway. Concept studies on capture from Norcem, Yara and FOV were delivered in the autumn of 2017 together with a concept study for transport. The concept study for CO₂ storage was completed in the autumn of 2018 and was carried out by the partners Equinor, Shell and Total.
Front-end engineering design (FEED) studies of CO₂ capture and most of the CO₂ transport and storage work was completed in the autumn of 2019. The last part of the FEED study for the storage location was completed in the spring of 2020.
Through the consideration of the State Budget for 2021 and the Longship report Meld. St. 33 (2019–2020), the Parliament agreed to a funding model and the conditions for further project development. Longship consists of three parts that together constitute the state-funded project Longship; capture, transport and storage of CO₂.
Norcem will capture CO₂ from its cement factory in Brevik. From Brevik, the CO₂ will be transported by ship to a new reception terminal in Øygarden in Hordaland. Then, the CO₂ will be sent through pipelines and permanently stored in a geological formation about 2,600 meters below the seabed. The construction of the carbon capture project at Norcem is well underway.
Hafslund Oslo Celsio (previously Fortum Oslo Varme) will capture CO₂ from flue gas at the waste incineration facility in Oslo. About 400 000 tonnes of CO₂ will be captured each year, transported to the port of Oslo and then by ship to the storage site. The state provided NOK 3,1 billion for Fortum Oslo Varme’s carbon capture project in 2020, including approximately two billion for investments and one billion for operations. In the revised national budget for 2022, the state proposed to increase its contribution by NOK 300 million to about NOK 3,4 billion to secure a ten-year operating period. The City of Oslo and the companies Hafslund Eco, Infranode and HitecVision will be responsible for the remaining financing of the project. Construction work will start in 2022, given ESA approves the conditions for state aid, and the capture facility is expected to be completed in 2026.
The transport and storage part of the project has been named Northern Lights and is a collaboration between Equinor, Shell and Total. The plan is to develop Northern Lights in two phases. The first phase is part of the Longship project and has an estimated capacity of 1.5 million tonnes of CO₂ per year over an operating period of 25 years. A possible second phase would have an estimated capacity of 5 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. Northern Lights expect to make a decision about phase 2 in 2022 or early 2023.
The construction of Northern Lights' transport and storage solution is progressing well. Northern Lights are experiencing great interest from international actors and are in active negotiations with potential customers who are considering using their storage solution. Northern Lights hopes to sign their first commercial agreement in 2022.
Announcement of areas for CO2 storage on the Norwegian shelf
There is an increasing commercial interest reagarding CO2 storage. Norway wants to provide attractive storage areas to companies that provide solutions on a commercial basis to industrial customers. In April 2022, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy awarded two licences to store CO2, one in the North Sea and one in the Barents Sea. An additional area was also announced for CO2 storage.
International support and activities
For CCS to become an effective climate measure, it requires international cooperation in order to develop and commercialize new technologies. Norway therefore supports CCS projects abroad in collaboration with other countries and through existing programs and institutions.