World’s 1st LNG-fuelled, wind-assisted CO2 carriers to feature ABB’s propulsion tech

Swiss-headquartered tech company ABB has been selected to deliver the shaft generator system with permanent magnet technology for the first dedicated CO2-storage vessels for Norway’s Northern Lights carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

Northern Lights
CO2 carrier
Credit: Northern Lights

Northern Lights, a joint venture between energy majors Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies, is said to be the first industrial carbon capture and storage (CCS) project to develop an open and flexible infrastructure to safely store CO2 from industries across Europe.

The first phase of the project is due to be completed in mid-2024 and will have the capacity to permanently store up to 1.5 million tons of CO2 per year, with the ambition to expand to over five million tons per year in a second development phase.

The two vessels will support the Northern Lights CCS project by transporting greenhouse gas from industrial emitters to an onshore terminal in Øygarden, Norway. From there, the CO2 will be delivered by pipeline to dedicated reservoirs 2,600 meters under the seabed in the North Sea for permanent storage.

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Each of the 130-meter ships will be able to carry up to 7,500 cubic meters of liquefied C02 in purpose-built pressurised cargo tanks.\

ABB’s permanent magnet shaft generator system is expected to increase the fuel efficiency of these ships, reducing emissions as a result. Combining this technology with variable-speed engines allows harvesting power for all onboard systems through the rotating force of the shaft, significantly improving performance compared to a traditional setup with fixed speed engines, according to the company.

The CO2 carriers, which are due for delivery in 2024, will be constructed by the Chinese shipbuilder Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC).

“As a longstanding partner of ABB, we are delighted to offer shipping companies the efficiencies, ease of installation and space savings enabled by permanent magnet shaft generator systems,” said a Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company spokesperson. 

ABB announced in June 2022 that it will also deliver the main electrical, automation and safety systems for the Northern Lights project, enabling the remote operation of the terminal and ensuring that the facility runs at optimum efficiency.

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ABB’s scope of supply also covers full engineering and commissioning services. In addition, the vessels will have access to the ABB Ability Marine Remote Diagnostic System for continuous equipment monitoring, optimized machinery and planned-maintenance activities, and reduced maintenance costs.

CCS plays an important role in meeting global climate and energy goals. Today, CCS facilities around the world have the capacity to capture more than 40 million tons of CO2 from power and industrial facilities, according to IEA.

While the transport of trapped CO2 to permanent storage locations by pipeline is already deployed at a large scale, it can present a challenge when the point of capture is further removed from a storage facility. Ships offer a flexible solution for long-distance CO2 transportation.

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“Addressing the world’s energy challenges requires a constant push for innovation, and we are proud to make a difference with our leading technology. Transporting captured emissions by ships will be key to the success of the Northern Lights project, paving the way for further developments to help accelerate decarbonization in heavy industry sectors,” said Rune Braastad, Global Business Line Manager, Marine Systems at ABB Marine & Ports.