Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology offers opportunities for the Nordic countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the future.
12 November 2010
CCS - an opportunity to reduce emissions in the Nordic
A study shows that carbon capture and storage (CCS)
technology offers opportunities for the Nordic countries to
reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the future, since there
are both large stationary sources of these emissions and
geologically suitable underground formations for its
storage in the region. CCS is conventionally considered for
fossil emissions, but it could also make a biomass plant a
© Riku Nikkila
The report, commissioned by the Nordic Innovation Centre and published by VTT Technical
Research Centre of Finland, gives an overview of the technologies and applications required for
CCS in the Nordic countries.
The study is a part of the Nordic Top-level Research Initiative - the largest Nordic-funded research
program to date within the fields of energy, environment and climate.
The report maps large emission sources in each Nordic country, lists potential storage sites and
gives an overview of current CCS projects. The future potential for CCS in the Nordic countries,
evaluated by using scenario calculations, and a regional assessment of the possibilities for CCS
application are also presented.
The report shows that CCS technology offers opportunities for the Nordic countries to reduce CO2
emissions since there are both large stationary sources of CO2 and geologically suitable
underground formations for its storage in the region.
Providing big cuts, but costly
The emissions from the 277 largest facilities totalled 113 million tons CO2 in 2007, which
corresponds to 51 percent of the total fossil CO2 emissions from the Nordic countries that year.
Power and heat plants accounted for 45 percent of the emissions, oil and gas activities 22 percent
and iron and steel production 12 percent.
The capacity for storing CO2 in underground geological formations in the Nordic countries seems
sufficient for a large-scale deployment of CCS. The storage capacity of aquifers offshore in Norway
was estimated at 85 gigatons CO2, while the storage capacity in Denmark was estimated at 2
Applying CCS technology to power plants would reduce the CO2 emissions from combustion by
80?90 percent. However, it would also almost double the production cost of electricity due to the
energy requirements of the capture process.
Three of the four ongoing large-scale CCS projects in the world capture CO2 from natural gas
processing. Of these, two are situated offshore in Norway: the Sleipner and Snohvit projects.
Several projects that demonstrate CCS technology in power plants are being planned worldwide.
CCS for biomass would function as a carbon sink
Carbon dioxide emissions from biomass combustion were also found to be considerable. The
mapped facilities emitted 54 million tons of biogenic CO2 in 2007, which mostly originated from
large pulp and paper mills in Finland and Sweden.
Capturing and storing CO2 from biomass combustion would function as a carbon sink, i.e. reduce
the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere in the long run.
However, the current EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for CO2 emissions does not include CO2
originating from biomass, since biomass is considered carbon neutral. Therefore, there are currently
no economic incentives to apply CCS to facilities emitting biogenic CO2. Also, very few studies
have been carried out on this subject.
Little activity for CCS
Public opinion on CCS is frequently stressed as being an essential factor in realiing the large-scale
development and deployment of the technology.
Many CCS projects in Europe and the USA have already faced local opposition that has delayed or
undermined projects, probably because very few people are familiar with CCS. To date, however,
no overview on public awareness has been made in the Nordic countries.
Since most of the known storage potential is located in the North Sea, the deployment of CCS in the
Nordic countries would require a large-scale transport and storage infrastructure.
According to the calculations in the report, the annual Nordic CO2 emissions could, at best, be
lowered by 5?15 percent by 2030 and 15?25 by 2050 using CCS technology. This would, however,
require the price of the emission allowances to rise from the current level of EUR10?20/ton to EUR
100/ton CO2 by 2050.
To date, there has been very little European activity related to CCS infrastructure development;
furthermore, policies related to CCS are still at an early stage in the Nordic countries
It is questionable, therefore, whether the current national- and EU-level initiatives are sufficient to
develop the necessary infrastructure for CCS deployment in the Nordic region within the required
Consortium to develop concepts, demonstrations
For developing innovative CCS related technologies and concepts leading to pilots and demonstrationsultimately improving CCS'
cost-efficiency, the Finnish Cluster for Energy and Environment (CLEEN Ltd) launches a research program for five years.
CLEEN Ltd has set up a globally recognized consortium to execute the research
program. Major contributors of the research program are among others Fortum,
Foster Wheeler, Rautaruukki, Neste Oil and Helsingin Energia complemented by
the leading Finnish research institutes.
"We aim to attract professionals from the world leading technology and
application providers, potential users of the technologies and consultants for
concept development," explains Matti Nieminen, Customer Manager at VTT.
The EUR20 million research program is built on strong Finnish expertise on
energy and environmentand and special characteristics of Finnish energy and
industrial infrastructure. The focus areas of the programme are:
*CCS in connection to Combined Heat and Power (CHP);
*Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC);
*Bio-CCS, CCS in connection to biomass based energy conversion processes.
"Oxyfuel combustion is already in the demonstration phase, as in the
demonstration project in Spain that is based on the Finnish fluidized bed
technology by Foster Wheeler," says Antti Arasto, Team leader at VTT.
Chemical Looping Combustion is an advanced Oxyfuel combustion process
where the oxygen required is produced in the thermal conversion process itself.
CLC, a technology that is based on the strong Finnish knowledge on fluidized
bed technology, is expected to be one of the long-term breakthrough technologies
in CCSP research program.
"The research cooperation is unique since companies and research institutes, that
will execute the programme, also set the objectives and scope for the program
together,? says Tommy Jacobson, CEO of CLEEN Ltd.
?With this kind of collaboration we will be able to contain internationally
competitive and up-to-date competence and research-development-industry
environment in Finland although we cannot always realize the demonstrations
Nordic Top-level Researh Initiative