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11 Mar 2024

Norway welcomes its first major carbon capture and storage project, Northern Lights

Amy Power
Norway welcomes its first major carbon capture and storage project, Northern Lights

TotalEnergies along with Equinor and Shell, have altogether launched Norway’s first large-scale carbon dioxide transport and storage project.

The project was approved by the Norwegian government in 2020 and the European Union then designated Northern Lights as a Project of Common Interest (PCI). The project is currently under construction and the hope for this new and innovative project is that it will grow and develop to the point of being able to help industrial emitters based in Norway and other parts of Europe to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

Northern Lights will be the first cross-border value chain project along the Norwegian coast, to offer a carbon storage solution to European industrial companies. This solution will involve the safe and permanent storage of these companies’ carbon dioxide emissions, 2600 meters below the seabed. The plan for this plant is for it to be operational in 2024 and this will start with the Phase 1 installation being scheduled to come on stream in 2024. This installation will bring with it the ability to capture 1.5 million tons of Co2 annually. The companies have stated that they are aiming to expand and extend this project to five million tons by 2026 and this project, as the first of its kind, marks a major milestone in the drive to decarbonise heavy industries which are based within Europe.

Northern Lights has been under development since December of 2022, when it received the first seven of twelve tanks that would be used for temporary carbon dioxide storage. Another task, drilling operations for the wells, has recently been completed and the official launching ceremony for the future vessels happened on the 21st of November. This ceremony took place in China, at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. Ltd.

The actual carbon capture and storage operations are scheduled to begin in 2024 and the project will act as a reliable and safe shipping and storage service to emitters that are based throughout Europe. In order to meet the growth in demand that is expected, especially from industrial sectors in Europe, the project has the ability to add more shipping and storage capacity when it is necessary.

So far, a few companies have displayed interest in the use of the Northern Lights project as a way to decarbonise their operations. Along these lines, the first commercial agreement was created in August of 2022 and this was with Yara. This means that as of 2025, it is planned that 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide will be captured, compressed and liquefied in the Netherlands annually. Once this process has taken place, the Co2 will then be transported to the Northern Lights site at which point it will be permanently sequestered. It will be sequestered into geological layers and buried an estimated 2,600 meters underneath the seabed. The designated site for this will be in the Norwegian North Sea, specifically, Øygarden.


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