Norwegian Delegation Talks Carbon Capture Business Opportunities in Washington, DC

On October 3, Global CCS Institute hosted a public briefing at the National Press Club titled Carbon Capture: A Business Opportunity in the Global Low-Carbon Economy. The event featured a diverse group of panelists, all of whom stressed the importance of capturing CO2 from various sectors, with a specific focus on the work done in Norway. Institute’s Natalia Sharova, Consultant – Policy, Commercial shares a summary of the event.

L-R: Jeff Bobeck, Trude Sundset (Gassnova), Rich Powell (ClearPath Foundation), Thina Saltvedt (Nordea Bank), Steinar Eikaas (Statoil), Pal Mikkelsen (Fortum).

Trude Sundset, CEO, Gassnova, announced the exciting collaboration between Statoil, Total, and Shell that was launched in Oslo on 2 October. Specifically, the three oil companies, with support from Gassnova, agreed to work together on a large CO2 storage facility located on the Norwegian continental shelf. The storage site will be designed to accommodate CO2 captured and transported from multiple onshore industrial facilities located in Norway. Steinar Eikaas, Vice President of New Energy Solutions at Statoil (Statoil is the lead participant on the project), emphasised that the CO2 will be transported by ship, thus making the value chain very flexible and accessible to any facility with carbon capture in Europe. Therefore, it will not only help to meet Norway’s CO2 reduction commitments, but will make CCS a more viable option to countries in the region. Steinar highlighted that the Norway Full Chain CCS project, which the cooperation between the three oil giants will support, is at the core of Statoil’s clean energy strategy in Europe.

Norway is a champion of not only the more conventional carbon capture applications, but is also a leader in using CCS technology in an urban setting. Pål Mikkelsen, CCS Director at Fortum Oslo Varme, drew attention to an often-overlooked sector that emits some of the highest volumes of CO2 in Europe – the waste industry (about 80 million tonnes of CO2 per year). Fortum Oslo Varme derives energy from burning waste and is the largest supplier of district heating in Norway. One of its facilities, located in the Norway’s capitol Oslo, not only utilises waste but also simultaneously captures most of the emitted CO2. Pål emphasised that the waste-to-energy sector is likely to rapidly grow in urban settings, which means that carbon capture can potentially play a major role in reducing CO2 emissions in large cities.

The Norwegian delegation also included Thina Saltvedt, Chief Analyst from Nordea Bank Norge – the largest bank in the Baltic region. The financial community is a rare guest at carbon capture discussions, however, Nordea Bank is ahead of the curve since it recently began including climate change risk into its financial decisions. Thina said she considers herself lucky to work in a bank where climate change is an important issue, but she also added: “It’s not that we have to believe in climate change, but as long as our clients do, and as long as our investors are pushing us on this matter, we just have to do it.” Thina added that more and more companies are becoming concerned with climate risks and expect banks to include the potential costs into their financial risk analyses, referring to the letters that a coalition of investors sent to the 60 largest banks this September (find out more here).

If banks start incorporating climate change into its risk ratings, carbon capture immediately becomes a necessity for many. Energy-intensive industries such as oil producers, power generators, iron, steel and cement producers, among others, are all exposed to higher risks in such a financial setting since they tend to have a high carbon footprint. Adding CCS to these processes would help emissions-intensive industries to improve their credit risk ratings, secure loans, and attract investment in cleaner economies of the future.

The briefing took place in Washington, DC, which means there was no avoiding policy talk. Rich Powell, Executive Director at ClearPath Foundation, had the tough task of discussing CCS from the American policy angle, and he immediately stressed that the reason CCS is not widely deployed in the country is the unlevelled playing field issue. When comparing the success that renewables see today with the state of CCS, Rich noted: “I don’t think we should think of what’s wrong with CCS and why it hasn’t moved forward, instead we should think of all the things renewables had going for them to make that happen.”

The briefing generated numerous questions and a lively discussion among the attendees. The Norwegian delegation held similar briefings at the Embassy of Norway and on Capitol Hill later that week. For more details from the discussion at the National Press Club, take a look at the recording of the event available online