Underwater cemetery for imported CO2 opens in Denmark

A terminal to receive liquefied carbon dioxide is under construction in Norway as neighboring Denmark embarks on a CO2 storage project.

Denmark on Wednesday launches a carbon dioxide storage project 1,800 meters under the North Sea, the first country in the world to bury CO2 imported from abroad.

The cooperation2 cemetery, where coal is injected to prevent further warming of the atmosphere, is located on the site of an old oil field.

Led by British chemical giant Ineos and German oil company Wintershall Dea, the ‘Greensand’ project is expected to store up to eight million metric tonnes of CO.2 per year until 2030.

In December, it received a license to begin its pilot phase.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, still in their infancy and expensive, aim to capture and then trap CO2 in order to mitigate global warming.

Around 30 projects are currently in operation or under development in Europe.

But unlike other projects that store CO2 emissions from nearby industrial sites, Greensand distinguishes itself by bringing carbon from far away.

First recorded in source, CO2 it is then liquefied – in Belgium in the case of Greensand – then transported, currently by ship but possibly by pipeline, and stored in reservoirs such as geological cavities or depleted oil and gas fields.

At Greensand, the coal is transported in special containers to the Nini West platform, where it is injected into an existing reservoir 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) below the seabed.

Once the pilot phase is complete, the plan is to use the neighboring Siri field as well.

Danish authorities, which have set themselves the goal of achieving carbon neutrality as early as 2045, say this is “a much-needed tool in our climate toolbox”.

“It will help us meet our climate goals and since our subsoil contains storage potential far greater than our own emissions, we can also store carbon from other countries,” Climate Minister Lars Agaard told AFP.

Advantages of the North Sea

The North Sea is particularly well-suited for such projects, as the area already has pipelines and potential storage sites after decades of oil and gas production.

“Depleted oil and gas fields have many advantages because they are well understood and there is already infrastructure that can probably be reused,” said Morten Jeppesen, director of the Danish Center for Offshore Technology at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

Near the Greensand site, France’s TotalEnergies is also exploring the possibility of burying CO2 aiming to trap five million tonnes per year by 2030.

In neighboring Norway, carbon capture and storage facilities are already operating to offset domestic emissions, but the country will also receive tons of liquefied CO2 in a few years, it is transported from Europe by ship.

As Western Europe’s largest oil producer, Norway also has the largest CO potential2 storage on the continent, particularly in its depleted oil fields.

Room for improvement

Although measured in millions of tons, the amounts stored still remain a small fraction of total emissions.

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), EU member states emitted 3.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2020 alone, a year that also saw reduced economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carbon sequestration has long been considered a complex solution with marginal use, as required by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

But it remains far from a panacea for global warming.

The energy-intensive process of capturing and storing CO2 it emits the equivalent of 21 percent of the gas it captures, according to the Australian think tank IEEFA.

And the technology is not without risks, according to the think tank, which says potential leaks could have serious consequences.

Furthermore, the cost of the project has not been made public.

“The cost of CO2 “Storage needs to be reduced further, so it will become a viable climate mitigation solution as the industry becomes more mature,” said Jeppesen.

The technology also faces opposition from environmentalists.

“It doesn’t fix the problem and prolongs structures that are harmful,” Helene Hage, head of climate and environmental policy at Greenpeace Denmark, told AFP.

“The method does not change our deadly habits. If Denmark really wants to reduce its emissions, it should look at sectors that produce a lot of them,” he said, singling out sectors such as agriculture and transport.

© 2023 AFP

Reference: Undersea Graveyard for Imported CO2 Opens in Denmark (2023, March 8) Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-undersea-graveyard-imported-co2-denmark.html

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