A billion-dollar subsidy for CO2 storage under the North Sea has been finalized

The infrastructure is being constructed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Gasunie and Energiebeheer Nederland (EBN). These are pipes through which the captured CO2 from the companies is transported to an empty gas field 20 kilometers off the coast of Hoek van Holland. Money is available from the European Union for this.

Now that the subsidy has been awarded, the parties involved assume that the so-called Porthos project will actually be realized. However, the necessary permits for construction still have to be granted and there is discussion about the nitrogen space required for construction.

Previous attempts failed

In the past, several attempts to get CCS off the ground in the Netherlands have failed. More than ten years ago, for example, a Shell project to store CO2 under Barendrecht failed. The intended experiment led to so much unrest among the population that the cabinet reversed the plan. Later plans to capture CO2 from coal-fired power stations in Rotterdam have failed due to financial problems.

Shell has now gained experience with CCS in Canada. Together with Equinor and Total, it is also participating in the Northern Lights project above the Norwegian city of Bergen. The oil companies will store CO2 under the North Sea for companies from all over Europe from the town of Øygarden.

Norway has more than twenty years of experience with CO2 capture and storage. Equinor’s predecessor, Statoil, has stored millions of tons of CO2 at a depth of 1 kilometer in the Sleipner gas field between Norway and Scotland. The projects in Norway are not causing public unrest and no major technical problems have arisen so far.

However, there are doubts in Norway about the sustainability and costs of CCS. Environmental organizations see it as an expensive way to ‘cleanse’ Norway’s oil and gas production.

Resist Greenpeace

During the negotiations on the Climate Agreement, Greenpeace opposed the large part of CCS in the plans for CO2 reduction by the industry. According to Greenpeace, CCS is an expensive way to postpone real CO2 reduction. According to the environmental organization, the costly construction of CCS infrastructure could be better used to make the industry more sustainable. Greenpeace did not sign the Climate Agreement.

Nature and the Environment also sees a risk that polluting companies will become reluctant due to CCS and that the technology will thus stand in the way of real sustainability. Yet, just like the United Nations, this environmental organization thinks that CCS is necessary to achieve the climate goals.

In addition to the Porthos project in Rotterdam, there are also other plans to capture CO2 and store it underground. For example, Tata Steel is working together with the Port of Amsterdam, Gasunie and EBN on the same type of project.