June 20. 2024. 2:34

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Leap forward in realizing Europe’s climate policies

It is a historic day for Europe: With Project Greensand, for the first time ever, we were able to test and confirm the entire cross-border CCS value chain to mitigate climate change. CO2 from a Belgian industrial company was stored beneath the Danish North Sea. Transported by ship in liquefied form, it is now stored permanently and safely in the former Nini oil field – in dense layers of rock around 2,000 metres under the North Sea and 200 km off the Danish coast – and was not emitted to the atmosphere.

Thus, yesterday represents a great success not only for our company and partners, but for Europe as a whole. As Ursula von der Leyen noted yesterday: “This is a big moment for Europe’s green transition, and for our clean tech industry. The first ever full value chain, for carbon capture and storage in Europe.”

And that’s just the beginning: After starting at just 15,000 tonnes in March 2023, up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 might be stored under the seabed each year by 2030 as part of Project Greensand. That alone is more than 13 per cent of the annual emissions of Denmark. As the world’s first cross-border offshore sequestering of CO2, this represents a leap forward in realizing Europe’s climate policies.

Now we should build upon this momentum and combine our strengths. Countries in the North Sea region – Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK – are leading the way. CCS projects enjoy strong backing in these countries – not only from policymakers, but also from society. The European Commission is also supporting and promoting CCS as a technology to mitigate climate change. The fact is that if we are serious about the 1.5-degree target, we need to make a major, concerted effort in Europe now to quickly put CCS value chains in place. After all, in addition to developing suitable storage sites for the CO2, we will also need a comprehensive CO2 transport infrastructure from the industrial centres of mainland Europe to the reservoirs beneath the North Sea. And of course we need to ensure CO2 emissions are captured at the industrial factories.

Creating a stable market together

To this end, the individual countries in Europe must quickly establish a regulatory framework that will enable us to transport CO2 across borders.

Only then will we be able to create a stable CCS market together. This is urgently needed. Ultimately, the technology will only make a timely contribution to the mitigation of climate change if it is commercially successful and adopted on a large scale. Industrial companies need planning security when it comes to dealing with unavoidable CO2 emissions. This will require a reliable CCS strategy both in Europe and within the individual countries.

Together with our partners, we are already working on establishing CCS value chains – not only in Denmark, but also in Norway.

With Equinor, we are developing the “NOR-GE” project. By the early 2030s, a 900-kilometre pipeline running from Wilhelmshaven to offshore storage sites on the Norwegian shelf could go into operation. The CO2 will be collected from industrial emitters in Germany and neighbouring countries. Five years later, it could already be transporting 20 to 40 million tonnes of CO2 per year – also to Project Greensand. This corresponds to roughly 20 per cent of Germany’s annual industrial emissions.

Together with Fluxys, we intend to help facilitate a CO2 transport network from the industrial clusters of southern Germany to future CO2 collection facilities in the Belgian coastal town of Zeebrugge. From there, the CO2 will proceed to its final destination, the storage sites under the seabed of the North Sea.

Making climate protection possible with CCS

Let’s take Denmark and Belgium as examples! The two countries are currently demonstrating how climate protection can be achieved across national borders with the help of CCS. We should capitalise on this momentum throughout Europe and clear the way for CCS. The technology is available and field-proven. And if we all join forces, it can soon contribute to the achievement of Europe’s climate targets.

Our projects in Denmark, Germany and Norway show that CCS is already a reality today and will be needed at large scale going forward. For me, the question is no longer “if”, but only “when and where”.