SCCS conference 291014 small size 247Davey Fitch, SCCS Business Development Executive, was recently in Oslo for the Global CCS Institute's annual European CCS forum. His blog describes progress being made in Norway on CCS, which underlines the opportunities also open to the UK.

Imagine, if you will, a place where political talk on climate change is backed up by real action. A place where tough decisions on paying the necessary price for carbon capture and storage (CCS) to clean up carbon dioxide emissions are being taken – and not just brushed under the carpet to be addressed in the future. A place that recognises that using existing offshore skills and infrastructure to build a new, low-carbon industry for the 21st century is worthwhile. Well, that place is just across the North Sea – Norway.

In Oslo, CCS plans are moving ahead. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit recently, for the Global CCS Institute’s annual European CCS forum. Oslo was the perfect venue, with confirmation of additional state funding for the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) large-scale pilot carbon capture facility announced in the previous week.

The TCM facility is supporting Norway’s ambitious goal to kickstart a CCS industry, with plans on the table to capture emissions from three industrial CO₂ emitters in the Oslo area. The Yara fertiliser plant, the Norcem cement plant and the municipal waste incinerator together currently emit two million tonnes of CO₂ per annum, and overall project costs are reduced significantly by the cluster approach, compared with the costs for a single emitter.

This collected CO₂ would be transported by ship to a suitable storage site off the west coast of Norway, with potential for an offshore CO₂-enhanced oil recovery pilot in addition. If all goes according to plan, this project could be operational in 2022.

I was really struck by the enthusiasm of the Norwegian speakers. Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde, the State Secretary for Petroleum and Energy, gave every impression of being fully behind the CCS plans. Later, cross-party politicians from the Norwegian Parliament’s Energy and Environment Committee shared a platform to speak up for CCS. Norway’s investment in the technology will come at a price, but the sense of politicians coming together to agree to pay that price, to reduce industrial CO₂ emissions and begin a new industry, was really impressive. Even better, learnings from the project will be shared with others.

The sense of politicians coming together to agree to pay that price, to reduce industrial CO₂ emissions and begin a new industry, was really impressive

The contrast with the current situation in the UK, where the new UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has yet to outline its future CCS strategy, is sadly a bit embarrassing. Visiting Norway and listening to speakers from around the continent outline the case for CCS (in perfect English) should make all of us in the UK realise that CCS can be achieved – relatively quickly – if the key pieces are all put in place.

But it’s not too late for us here on the other side of the North Sea. If the Norwegians can do it, why can’t we? We should really be competing with Norway to develop CCS projects and an offshore CO₂ storage resource, which will be vital for Europe in the coming decades for the deep cuts in emissions that nations have agreed to implement. Preserving key pieces of North Sea oil and gas infrastructure to be used for early, small-scale CCS projects is still achievable in the near term as long as the political and public will exists. Diversifying our offshore industries and workforce, at a time of hydrocarbon industry difficulty, ought to be a national strategic priority right now.

Visiting the Klemetsrudanlegget waste incinerator on the outskirts of Oslo, one of the three sites in the Norwegian CCS plan, it was plain to see that we all have a role to play in cleaning up our environment. As Johnny Stuen, the Technology Manager at the plant pointed out, there are two billion tonnes of household waste generated worldwide every year, and if industrial waste is included, this rises to 10bn tonnes.

A proportion of this is biomass, meaning that incineration with carbon capture is actually carbon negative – which is vital to stay within future limits on global temperature rise. Almost everywhere in the world has a waste incineration plant (Edinburgh is building a new one now) and if we can’t clear up that mess then what chance do we have of meeting our emissions targets? Norway is leading the way in Europe, and we should all take notice.

Bruce Adderley of the UK CCS Research Centre was also in Oslo for the GCCSI forum. Read his blog

Norwegian FEED Project Panel
Johnny Stuen, technology manager at Oslo’s Klemetsrudanlegget waste incinerator, speaks to delegates at the GCCSI’s annual CCS forum. Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild

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