“We are pushing the plant to its limits,” say the two CO2 hunters, who are hoping that the test results will be sufficiently convincing to persuade the national authorities to grant funding for a full-scale CO2 capture plant at Fortum Oslo Varme’s refuse incineration plant within the next five years.
Along with the Heidelberg/Norcem cement plant at Breivik, the Klemetsrud plant qualified last year to become part of Norway’s national carbon capture project, which is managed by Gassnova, the Norwegian government’s CO2 capture and storage agency. It will now be up to Norway’s politicians to decide whether state funding should be granted for a full-scale project at both of these point sources of emissions with the aim of capturing 400,000 tonnes of CO2 at each plant. A decision is expected in 2020 or 2021. “If we get the green light, a full-scale plant could be up and running at Klemetsrud by 2023/2024,” say Thomassen and Tednes.
“Catch and release”
A stream of exhaust gas is piped from the incineration plant into a blue steel container and undergoes the various treatment stages that results in the capture of 90 per cent of the CO2. “At this stage, what we are doing is catch and release, pure and simple” the two engineers joke. Once captured, the CO2 is released again. In a full-scale plant, the gas will be stored in liquid form, carried on electric lorries to the port of Oslo and then shipped out to an intermediate storage facility at Øygarden outside Bergen. The Klemetsrud and Breivik plants are both part of an infrastructure project known as Northern Light, a joint venture project operated by Equinox, Shell and Total. “In other words, plenty of storage space for emissions originating in Norway and from point sources elsewhere in Europe”.
Pushing the system
After six months of design and construction the pilot plant at Klemetsrud was in place in February/March. “We are now learning more about the technology. We are using Shell Cansolv technology, which is based on binding CO2 to amines. What these amines consist of is so secret that even we don’t know,” say Thomassen and Tednes. “We need to understand all the reactions between our exhaust gases and the amines. Over the last few months we have run tests for a total of 2000 hours,” says Jørgen Thomassen.
Norway should take the first financial hit
“We have no insight into the political processes that are under way, but we do know that one issue that is being discussed is the amount that the Norwegian Government should cover. Our contribution as technologists is to optimize the process with the aim of reducing the costs involved to a sufficient degree for it to be an attractive proposition for plants elsewhere in Europe and the world to invest in carbon capture.” They believe that an increase in the cost of emitting CO2 is essential. If that happens, then carbon capture will become much more attractive in financial terms. “The plant that we are building will probably be the most expensive that will ever be built, but if we don’t do it, no one else will.” Jørgen Thomassen and Marius Tednes are in no doubt that Norway should take the lead and bear the cost of a full-scale plant.