Norwegian government’s ‘Northern Lights’ project will enable industries to store upto 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, 3,000m below the North Sea
Norway has given its final approval for a £2bn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project which will enable certain industries to permanently store their CO2 emissions beneath the North Sea. Dubbed ‘Northern Lights’, the project is being developed by Shell, Total and Equinor and is being coordinated by Norway’s state enterprise, Gassnova.
Norway began investigating CCS as a potential solution to decarbonise its economy in 2016, when it commissioned feasibility studies for a full-scale CSS project. The Northern Lights project will capture CO2 from industrial sources such as Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste-to-energy plant at Klemetsrud and Norcem’s cement factory in Breivik. After liquefaction, the CO2 will be shipped to a receiving terminal on the west coast of Norway. An offshore pipeline will inject this liquefied CO2 into an empty reservoir located 3,000m below sea level for permanent storage.
The Northern Lights project is split into two phases. Phase I involves developing the capacity to capture, inject and store up to 1.5m tonnes of CO2 each year. Based on market demand, Phase II will scale up the storage by an additional 3.5m tonnes. In March this year, Northern Lights project partners successfully drilled a confirmation well 2,500m below the North Sea. Phase I is expected to be functional by 2024.
The Northern Lights project has been heralded for its pragmatic approach to decarbonise the EU’s economy while meeting targets set in the Paris Agreement. CCS can enable significant emission reductions in typically high-carbon industries such as power production and heavy-duty transport. However, Northern Lights is the first project to offer storage of CO2 as a service to industries. At a virtual media briefing, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden noted that “Northern Lights is designed to provide a service to industrial emitters who can now take action on emissions that can’t be avoided. This is key to bringing real progress towards tackling climate change.”