In mid-December, Norway’s parliament voted to spend 16.8bn kroner (£1.5bn) on Longship, calling it “the largest-ever climate project in Norwegian industry”. This covers more than two-thirds of the total cost of developing and operating carbon capture at two industrial plants, as well as transport and storage of the CO2.
Northern Lights project, a partnership between Equinor, Norway’s majority state-owned energy company, Royal Dutch Shell, and the French oil major Total, is responsible for the transportation and storage side. When it is fully up-and-running, the project’s facility outside the city of Bergen is expected to take shiploads of CO2 from as far south as the north of Spain and as far east as Helsinki.
“I think it’s a game-changer,” Mr Overå says. “What we are doing is essentially establishing a new business, the business of managing other people’s emissions in a safe way and storing it, and that hasn’t been done before. All of a sudden, you open the opportunity for the hard-to-decarbonise industries to clean up their emissions.”
The steelmaker ArcelorMittal, the French industrial gases company Air Liquide, HeidelbergCement, and Sweden’s Preem refining group are four of the big multinationals who plan to export CO2 to Norway from their European plants.
HeidelbergCement’s Brevik plant, outside Oslo, will be the first anchor customer, with the Norwegian government paying about 80pc of the 3.3bn kroner (£280m) cost of installing carbon capture over the next three years.
Norway’s government has agreed to invest a similar amount in installing carbon capture at Fortum Oslo Värme, a waste incinerator and district heating plant, but this is conditional on Fortum, the Finnish owner, winning 3bn kroner in funding from the European Innovation Fund. The fund is due to announce its first shortlist of projects in the first three months of this year.