Norway is regarded as the home of CCS technologies – consequently, for anyone professionally involved in the implementation of these, the country should be a must-visit destination. At the end of June 2023, the CCS4CEE project hosted a study trip by project partners and a group of stakeholders from Central and Eastern Europe. Most of them, for the first time, were to see CCS sites and, above all, the Northern Lights terminal – a carbon capture and storage facility.
We all met in Oslo. On the first day of the trip there was a workshop led by the main organiser, Bellona. This was an opportunity for us to get to know each other better and find out more about what everyone expected from the Norway trip. The participants represented a variety of backgrounds, so the presentations given that day aimed to level the playing field on the state of CCS technology in Europe. The presenters were, in chronological order: Michał Wendołowski (Bellona Europa), Truls Jemtland (Celsio) and Szczepan Polak (Equinor). In addition, Kamil Laskowski (WiseEuropa) interviewed Eivind Berstad (Bellona Foundation), while Ervinas Škikūnas (Civitta) acted as a moderator of the panel discussion with Hanne Rolén (Aker Carbon Capture), Anders Melhus (Altera Infrastructure) and Eirik Falck da Silva (Sintef).
At the recent CCS4CEE events, the issue of public acceptance has been mentioned more and more frequently. This issue has regularly popped up in the stakeholders’ expectations of the study trip (in the context of lessons learned from Norway). It was also listed as one of the main barriers to the development of CCS technology in CEE countries (in addition to legislative and financial barriers). The presenters also shared their experiences in this regard.
After lunch, we were driven to Porsgrunn, 150 km south of Oslo.
Another day features a visit at the Norcem cement plant in Brevik, owned by Heidelberg Materials, one of the world’s largest producers of building materials. The company is in the process of building a carbon capture plant as part of the Longship project, and is also a supplier of captured carbon dioxide for storage to be handled by the Northern Lights terminal. From the presentation it was possible to learn what a cement plant looks like from a bird’s eye view, how cement is made, and in what way CO2 emissions can be reduced. Many of the tour participants represented the cement industry, so at the end of the session many questions were asked by those interested in sharing their experiences. Interestingly, the cement plant has already been visited by some VIPs, including members of the Norwegian royal family. The level of awareness of the topic among the general public in Norway is also high; hence, the local media repeatedly and eagerly write and speak about it.
In the afternoon we moved on to Bergen.
This was the highlight of the trip: on the last official day of the visit, we went to the Northern Lights terminal under construction at Øygarden. It is part of the Norwegian government-backed Longship project. Carbon dioxide will be injected here into a reservoir located 2,600 metres below the seabed. The project will become operational in 2024, but it will be further extended. Despite its support, the state does not expect any returns. The Northern Lights terminal is somewhat of a tourist attraction; hence, an information centre with a meeting and presentation room was set up there.
Carbon dioxide will be brought to the site by ships that will arrive every four days. It is worth mentioning that such a ship will be the largest of its kind in the world for transporting CO2. However, in order for the service provided by Northern Lights (owned by Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergie) to be competitive, the transport has to take place both by sea and by land – via pipelines.
Currently, many more CO2 storage sites are being developed in Norway; approximately five of them are in the licensing stage, which should unlock Norwegian potential to some extent.
At Øygarden we listened to a presentation, from which we learned the facts mentioned above, and we got a chance to have a close look at the installations being built there. It was the perfect finale of these few days in Norway; everyone has certainly gained much new and practical knowledge which hopefully will germinate in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
The study trip took place under the CCS4CEE project which aims to renew the discussion on the long-term deployment of CCS in the CEE region. Its goal was to showcase CCS projects currently under development in Norway to a select group of 39 stakeholders from the Central Eastern European region, including the representatives of national and local authorities, industry, civil society, and academia. The organizers aimed to introduce stakeholders to the development of each step of the CCS value chain as well as invite them for a discussion on lessons learnt from the Norwegian experience with CCS that could be applied in Central and Eastern Europe. The study trip was organised by Bellona Europa, in collaboration with Gassnova. WiseEuropa was responsible for inviting the stakeholders from Poland.