Norway mulls over burying its carbon at sea

Norway's parliament will decide in October whether to back a €2.3bn project that would drastically cut emissions from a cement factory and a waste-to-energy power plant -- by burying it at sea.

The plan would involve capturing emissions from those two locations, loading the carbon dioxide on to a ship, transporting the compressed gas a few hundred miles to the country’s west coast, then burying it under the seabed.

A government-commissioned report found that the 25-year-long project would be more expensive than originally anticipated and benefits would come with “great uncertainty”. The government is to bear 80% of the cost and the rest will come from oil companies Equinor, Total, and Shell, experts in handling gases and drilling under the seabed.

Norway has been here before. In 1991, the country introduced a carbon tax for offshore oil drilling. That was one reason why Statoil, which is now called Equinor, built some of the world’s first carbon capture plants aimed solely at reducing emissions. The millions of tons of carbon dioxide that these plants buried are monitored and expected to remain underground for many thousands of years.

Some view the latest project with scepticism. It comes less than a decade after the country scrapped a project, dubbed Norway’s “moon landing” by former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

This time might be different. Norway has two cement factories and some 20 waste-to-energy plants, which are expected to continue to operate for decades to come.

Carbon capture is the only technology to cut emissions from these plants.

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