Northern Lights carbon storage and transport project in Norway; Source: Northern Lights JV

As Northern Lights examines its value chain’s CO2 footprint, Ørsted starts construction of carbon capture facilities

A study has been conducted to assess the estimated carbon footprint of the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage (CCS) project’s CO2 transport and storage value chain throughout all phases of its lifecycle, from construction to decommissioning. In addition, Ørsted has begun the construction work for two carbon capture facilities at Asnæs and Avedøre combined heat and power stations, which will handle and ship biogenic carbon from both to the Northern Lights storage reservoir in the Norwegian part of the North Sea.

Northern Lights carbon storage and transport project in Norway; Source: Northern Lights JV

After steps were taken to assess the carbon footprint of Northern Lights’ CO2 transport and storage value chain, the study found that the CCS project would have an estimated net abatement of 97.4% of the total amount of CO2 injected, based on a minimum injection of 5 million tons CO2 per annum through 25 years. However, all phases of the project’s lifecycle, from construction to decommissioning, have been taken into account.

The study’s key findings show that Northern Lights will store 127.8 million tons of CO2 over the lifetime of its first development phases; the estimated lifecycle emissions are 3.3 million tons throughout the value chain; the project will have a net greenhouse gas reduction of 124.5 million tons CO2, which gives an estimated net abatement of 97.4% of the total amount of CO2 injected.

Furthermore, the lifecycle emissions of 2.6% from the Northern Lights value chain are largely related to the operations of CO2 transport, more specifically the ship fuel consumption. With this at the forefront, the project partners have already implemented solutions such as LNG fuel, wind-assisted rotor sails, and air lubrication which reduces the carbon footprint compared to conventional ships, and continuously works to assess further climate mitigating solutions.

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“The study demonstrates that the Northern Lights CCS value chain is a viable concept and an efficient climate solution that contributes to net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from hard-to-abate industries,” outlined Northern Lights.

Northern Lights JV and Ørsted announced the signing of a CO2 transport and services agreement (TSA) in May 2023 to store 430,000 tons of biogenic CO2 emissions per year from two power plants in Denmark. Northern Lights will transport the liquefied CO2 by ship from the Ørsted Kalundborg Hub in Denmark to a CO2 receiving terminal at Øygarden, Norway, for permanent offshore storage below the North Sea. This agreement represents a huge step in the creation of a commercial market for CCS in Europe. 

The deal was inked after Ørsted was awarded public funding from the Danish Energy Agency under the first Danish tender of the CCUS Fund to develop a CO2 capture hub for the biomass power stations Asnæs and Avedøre.

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According to Ørsted, the construction of two carbon capture facilities, designed to capture and store carbon emissions from the woodchip-fired Asnæs Power Station in Kalundborg and the straw-fired unit at Avedøre Power Station in Greater Copenhagen, has now started.

“The capture and storage of this carbon will make a substantial contribution to Denmark’s climate targets for 2025 and 2030. Northern Lights JV will transport and store the CO2 from Ørsted at our facility at the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Our facility is about 90% ready and is on schedule to be ready to receive CO2 in 2024,” outlined Northern Lights.

The Ørsted Kalundborg CO2 Hub project aims to capture and store 430,000 tons of CO2 annually from early 2026 – equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from approximately 200,000 petrol-powered cars. Ørsted will capture 150,000 tons of biogenic CO2 per year from the straw-fired unit at Avedøre Power Station, which will initially be transported by lorry to Asnæs Power Station until a shared pipeline infrastructure across Zealand has been established.

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Ole Thomsen, Senior Vice President and Head of Ørsted’s Bioenergy business, commented: “We’re proud to initiate the construction of Denmark’s first full-scale carbon capture project. To combat climate change, we must implement various types of green solutions, and this project is one of the initiatives that will play a pivotal role in our efforts. We look forward to collaborating with our partners, the municipalities, and our stakeholders to ensure the success of this project and achieve our shared climate goals.”

In addition, Ørsted will capture 280,000 tons of biogenic CO2 per year from the wood chip-fired unit at Asnæs Power Station, which will also function as a CO2 hub, handling and shipping biogenic carbon from both the Avedøre and Asnæs combined heat and power plants to the Northern Lights storage reservoir in the Norwegian North Sea.

The Northern Lights project, which delivers CO2 transport and storage as a service, is part of Norway’s efforts to develop a full-scale carbon capture and storage value chain. Owned by Equinor, Shell, and TotalEnergies, the onshore and offshore facilities are developed by Equinor on behalf of Northern Lights JV. Phase 1 with a capacity to inject up 1.5 million tons of CO2 per year is scheduled to be ready for operation in 2024.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights is said to be the first industrial CCS project to develop an open and flexible infrastructure to safely store CO2 from industries across Europe. This is part of the full-scale Longship CCS project that entails the transportation, receipt, and permanent storage of CO2 in a reservoir in the northern North Sea.

Captured and liquefied CO2 from European emitters will be loaded and delivered to the receiving terminal in Øygarden on board two LNG-powered, wind-assisted CO2 transportation ships. By June 2023, all twelve CO2 storage tanks for the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project have been installed at the project’s CO2-receiving facilities in Øygarden, Norway.

The construction of the first two Northern Lights’ ships surged past the 60% completion mark at the end of November 2023, bringing to life what has been described as the world’s first large vessels tailor-made for liquified CO2 transport. A binding commercial agreement was also penned with Yara International to pave the way for the world’s first cross-border transportation and storage of CO2.