Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, comprises the capture, transport and storage of CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and industrial production. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CCS is a key tool for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. There are some CCS projects in operation in the world today, but costs are still high and further maturing of the technologies is necessary. Hence, work in this field is focusing on the development of technology and ways of reducing costs.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) in fact involves three processes: the capture, transport and storage of CO2 from power production, industry or other sources.
The purpose of CCS is to limit the quantity of CO2 released into the atmosphere by capturing CO2 and storing it securely and permanently.
CO2 can be captured from flue (waste) gases at power plants and from industrial production processes. It is also possible to separate CO2 directly from natural gas during processing to achieve the required quality before the gas is transported to buyers by pipeline or ship. It is more difficult to capture CO2 from power-plant flue gas and industry than from natural gas.
There are a number of technologies for capturing CO2 from flue gas, two of which are being tested at the Technology Centre Mongstad. The world’s first full-scale facility for capturing CO2 from coal-fired power production was opened in Canada in October 2014. More information about various capture methods is available here.
CO2 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 the storage site. Transport by ship is better for smaller quantities and greater distances, whereas pipeline transport is better suited for larger quantities and shorter distances.
There is considerable potential for large-scale storage of CO2 under the Norwegian continental shelf, and it is vital to ensure that the gas does not leak from where it is stored. This makes subsea storage the most secure option in Norway. There are large reservoirs at great depths that provide suitable pressure and temperature conditions while preventing the CO2 from migrating up through the layers of rock and sand towards the seabed. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has compiled a CO2 storage atlas for the Norwegian continental shelf.
Norway has long experience of using CCS techniques. Since 1996, CO2 from natural gas production on the Norwegian shelf has been captured and reinjected into sub-seabed formations. The CCS projects on the Sleipner, Utgard and Snøhvit petroleum fields are the only CCS projects currently in operation in Europe and the only projects 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 Mongstad (TCM) is the world’s largest facility for testing and improving CO2 capture technologies. TCM has been operating since 2012, providing an arena for targeted development, testing and qualification of CO2 capture technologies on an industrial scale. In autumn 2017, the Norwegian Government, Equinor (former Statoil), Shell and Total entered into a new agreement securing operations until 2020. TCM is designed for long-term operation, with two plants testing two different CO2 capture technologies:
- Amine technology, in which CO2 is captured by scrubbing flue gas with a water-based solution of amines.
- 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. According to current plans, operations at the CHP plant will be terminated and the TCM is therefore working on alternative solutions to maintain the opportunity to test CO2-capture from an equivalent flue gas. These different testing opportunities makes the facility very flexible. So far, the companies Aker, Alstom, Shell Cansolv, Carbon Clean Solutions and IoN Engineering have all used the test facility. More information is available here.
Research and technology development
In Norway, funding for CCS research is provided through the CLIMIT programme. The CLIMIT programme is a national programme for research, development and demonstration of technologies for capture, transport and storage of CO2 from fossil-based power production and industry. The programme supports projects in all stages of the development chain, from long-term basic research to build expertise to demonstration projects for CCS technologies. Projects under the CLIMIT programme have yielded important results for the development of CCS in Norway and internationally.
In addition, a Norwegian CCS Research Centre (NCCS), is etablished under the Centres for Environmental-friendly Energy Research program (FME). The centre is managed by SINTEF Energy.
Large-scale demonstration facility
The Norwegian Government aims to construct a large-scale CCS demonstration facility. This is a challenging task in Norway, partly because there are few suitable large-scale point sources of CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. However, there are high CO2 emissions from some industrial facilities.
A technical and economic feasibility study of possible demonstration projects in Norway was completed in 2016. The aim of these studies was to identify at least one technically feasible CCS chain with corresponding cost estimates. Three industrial players conducted feasibility studies of CO2 capture at their industrial sites; Norcem at their cement plant in Brevik, Yara at their ammonia production plant at Herøya in Porsgrunn and Fortum Oslo Varme (FOV) at their waste incineration plant at Klemetsrud in Oslo. Gassco has carried out a ship transport study and Equinor has studied the feasibility of CO2 storage at three different sites on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
The results from the feasibility studies, presented in July 2016, show that it is technically feasible to realize a CCS chain in Norway. The studies demonstrate a flexible CCS chain. Instead of transporting CO2 by pipeline to a storage site, the plan is to transport CO2 by ship to a connection point tied to the storage site. A flexible transport solution and ample storage capacity can contribute to realising capture from further sources. That way, the initial investment on CO2 infrastructure can be utilised by several projects.
Based on the results from the feasibility studies, the government decided to continue the planning of a large-scale CCS project in Norway. Concept studies on capture and transport were conducted throughout 2017. The partners Equinor, Shell and Total are currently conducting a concept study on storage of CO2 on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, with expected completion by June 2018. In the 2018 budget, the government announced that they will present a proposition to the parliament (Stortinget) on the large-scale CCS project in the spring 2018. This will include the Norwegian state's total costs and risks based on the information from the concept studies on transport and capture, as well as the potential for cost reductions and international technology transfer and the industrial actors' contributions and incentives for cost reductions. The proposition will also present a revised timeline for the project.
International support and activities
In order for CCS to play an effective role in climate change mitigation, international cooperation on developing and commercialising new technology is essential. Norway therefore provides funding for CCS projects abroad in cooperation with other countries and through existing programmes and institutions. For example, Norway is currently supporting CCS projects in China and South Africa.