Environment

Microsoft joins Norway’s pioneering CO2 capture, storage project

Microsoft Norway's CO2 capture storage

Photo: Equinor

Published

October 21, 2020

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Published:

October 21, 2020

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Various industrial facilities will be able to implement the digital platform that Microsoft is working on in Norway for Northern Lights, which is developing a CO2 capture and storage system. Producers and consumers of fossil fuels face growing expenses for releasing greenhouse gases.

Equinor and Microsoft are considering ways that the United States–based software and hardware giant’s technology can contribute to the Norwegian national project to capture and store carbon dioxide or CO2. The state-owned energy company, which was earlier called Statoil and was mostly responsible for oil production, is developing the Northern Lights initiative, where Royal Dutch Shell and Total have one third each.

The government sent a proposition to parliament in September to approve just under half of the funds for umbrella project Longship (Langskip in Norwegian), worth an overall NOK 25.1 billion (EUR 2.3 billion), and the final investment decision is expected by the end of the year. In the program’s previous version, the state was supposed to provide EUR 2.1 billion within a larger total budget.

Microsoft enters umbrella project in CO2 transport, storage segment 

Microft signed a memorandum of understanding concerning a digital platform only for Northern Lights, which covers transportation, receipt and permanent storage of liquefied CO2 under the North Sea. Companies that produce and consume fossil fuels are looking for ways to reduce costs for greenhouse gas emissions allowances while the European Union and many countries are making standards stricter.

“One of the world’s imperatives is the need to develop new ways to capture, transport, and permanently store carbon. This will require enormous investment and innovation, including a huge amount of computing power and data,” said Brad Smith, president of the multinational company headquartered in Redmond, Washington. He noted Microsoft intends to cut its net CO2 emissions to zero by 2030.

Possibility of direct investment

The agreement stipulates the two sides would work on a model for a conventional investment. Namely, Microsoft has earmarked USD 1 billion for technology that prevents CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere and it is leaning on it in its decarbonization push. Within the deal, the companies revealed, they will jointly explore and establish advocacy of policies that help accelerate the contribution that CO2 capture and storage can make to meeting Europe’s climate goals.

Memoranda of understanding were already signed with Air Liquide, Arcelor Mittal, Ervia, Fortum, HeidelbergCement, Preem, Stockholm Exergi and ETH Zürich

The project can help clients mitigate emissions caused by their own energy use, according to Shell. The plan includes the development of a business model for carbon capture and storage, CCS, applicable throughout Europe, the participants said. Memoranda of understanding were already signed with Air Liquide, Arcelor Mittal, Ervia, Fortum, HeidelbergCement, Preem, Stockholm Exergi i ETH Zürich.

The start of operations is scheduled for 2024 and the capacity in the first phase is estimated at 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year. The geological reservoir is located 2,600 meters below the seabed. The terminal will be built in Øygarden in the Western Norway region.

Groundbreaking endeavor for cement industry, waste incineration

Microsoft said it already cooperates with the three global oil companies for a long time and added no government or corporation can solve the issue alone.

The Norwegian government intends to support capturing of the greenhouse gas in a cement factory in Brevik run by Norcem HeidelbergCement. The propositions includes Fortum’s waste incinerator in Oslo on the condition that the firm also commits own funds and manages to get financing from the EU or elsewhere.

Aker Carbon Capture, recently spun off by Aker Solutions, already signed a contract valued at NOK 1.7 billion or EUR 156 million for carbon capture in in the Brevik plant in the country’s south. It would be the first such project anywhere in the cement industry. Equinor hired Skanska for works on the future terminal, worth NOK 380 million (EUR 35 million).

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