The Trondheim Carbon Capture and Storage Conference 2023


By Jasmin Kemper

29 June 2023

 TCCS-12 took place from 20-21 June 2023, was excellently organised and a great success. The conference was opened by Nils Røkke (SINTEF), who presented the stats of this year’s edition of the conference series: 10 keynotes, 118 presentations organised in 6 parallel session streams, 158 posters and 606 participants, up from 300 – 400 participants of previous editions. Since the last conference, the interest and activities related to carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) have multiplied, as in the race to net zero maths, skills, and pacing matter. In addition, carbon removals emerged as a strong, complementary driver. The CO2 footprint of TCCS-12 is estimated to be around 250 tCO2, and to address those emissions €25k will be donated to the SINTEF Global Climate Fund.

Terje Aasland (Norwegian Minister of Energy and Petroleum) mentioned that CCUS is a global undertaking and that it is essential to deliver it at the lowest possible cost. Before investments can happen, CO2 transport and storage solutions (T&S) are needed. In addition to NL, there are now 5 exploration licenses for CO2 storage in Norway.

Kikki Flesche Kleiven (Bjerknes Centre) reminded us of the urgency of our tasks: we are now at 424 ppm of CO2 and +1.15°C of global warming, with certain places warming much faster than others (e.g. Svalbard at 4x the global average). Extreme weather events are already displacing 1.6 million people annually. The difference between 1.5°C and 2°C might not sound much but is significant in terms of crossing climate tipping points, and the choices we make now will reverberate for 100s of years.

Jarad Daniels (GCCSI) provided an update on the global status of CCUS. The facility pipeline is growing: 50 MtCO2 are currently in operation and 300 MtCO2 are in all phases of development. In Brazil, Petrobras stored 10 MtCO2 in 2022. In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has provided immense stimulus, a 13x increase is expected compared to previous policies. However, to meet the IEA ‘Net Zero Emissions by 2050’ (NZE) scenario’s demand for CCUS by 2030, a 25x increase of current operations is needed. Over the next 30 years, capital investments of $655bn – $1.28tn will be required and stronger policies are needed.

Børre Jacobson (Northern Lights (NL) Project) provided an update of the NL project, which aims to store first 1.5 MtCO2/a, then later 5 MtCO2/a, 2.6 km under the seabed. For CO2 transport, both a 110 km pipeline and two 7.5 km3 ships will be used. The facilities are 80% complete and operation will start in 2024. The main challenges in the project were establishing first-of-a-kind (FOAK) contracts for T&S, streamlining the regulatory frameworks, and addressing bilateral agreements/cross-border CO2 transport. NL currently has contracts in place with the Yara fertiliser plant and the Ørsted bioenergy plant for CO2 offtake of 800 kt/a and 430 kt/a respectively. NL has received significant interest in its services from all across Europe and the CO2 shipping market has seen a massive shift, from no interest to build CO2 ships at all to most manufacturers now working on designs for CO2 ships.

Markus Sebastian Hole (Hafslund Oslo Celsio) provided an overview of Celsio’s activities in the Longship projected, which captures CO2 from industrial sources around Oslo (NL will be responsible for the T&S). Celsio aims to capture 400 ktCO2/a from its waste-to-energy (WtE) plant using Shell amine technology. About 50% of this CO2 will count as carbon dioxide removal (CDR) due to the biogenic content of the waste stream. Due to high inflation and other reasons, the project saw a €300 million cost increase.

Ola Miljeteig (Equinor) highlighted that CCS is ready to deploy, thanks to NL, which has changed the game and opened the market. CCS is an important tool in the energy transition, as it can provide low-carbon energy, facilitate decarbonisation in hard-to-abate sectors, and enable CDR.

Mona Mølnvik (NCCS) provided an update on NCCS’s activities and stressed the importance of good quality VLE data and physical properties to deliver the modelling of CCUS to the highest standards.

The keynotes of the first day concluded with a panel discussion (participants: Simon Roussanaly (SINTEF), Philip Ringrose (NTNU/Equinor, Nicola Marsh (NCCS), Børre Jacobson (NL), and Jarad Daniels (GCCSI)). Highlights from this discussion included the following messages:

  • CCUS looks expensive when focusing on the plant level but costs are relatively cheap when looked at from the end-use perspective.
  • Next-generation storage will be high-tech and low-cost. Storage rates of 10 Mt/a using 5-6 wells will be standard then.
  • The timeframe from site selection to operation is key (currently up to 10 years).
  • A young and skilled workforce needs to be attracted.
  • Information from monitoring will be crucial for building public trust.

Marco Mazzotti (ETH Zurich) opened the keynotes of the second day, reminding the audience that the key role of CCS and CDR for a net negative world is no longer disputed but that deployment rates are far too low. Each CO2 molecule stored counts and storage space should be occupied by the cheapest options first. He also challenged the oil and gas industry to significantly up their game in delivering CCS.

Svend Tollak Munkejord (SINTEF) talked about the effect of impurities on pipeline transport, which can significantly increase the bubble pressure and also change the frictional pressure drop. Models for transient flow need to be particularly robust due to the proximity to the critical and triple points. We know enough to start pipeline transport operations but need more knowledge for cost-optimised transport.

Erik Lindeberg (SINTEF) summarised that 45.5 MtCO2 have been stored in aquifers, most of it in Sleipner in Norway. CO2 storage differs significantly from standard oil & gas operations, e.g. the risk horizon for CO2 storage is much longer, the locations and design of wells need to be different and the economic driver for oil & gas production is currently much higher. In the Norwegian Utsira formation, which is considered the ‘filet of CO2 storage reservoir’, injection rates of 130 Mt/a are possible, but the two existing issued licenses are very small, currently preventing an effective development of the whole formation.

Philip Ringrose (NTNU/Equinor), who won the TCCS-12 CCS Award, highlighted that we will need about 12,000 injection wells by 2050 to achieve the 2DS goal. This is technically possible (the oil & gas industry has about 1 million wells in operation globally at the moment) but will require financial incentives. In addition, it is possible to increase injection rates to up to 2 Mt/a per well.

Outside of the keynote, I mainly attended sessions focussing on solid looping and CDR and my key takeaways from those sessions are the following:

  • Ca(OH)2 appears as a promising sorbet for Calcium looping (CaL) due to allowing for a smaller carbonator and higher operating flexibility. The sorbent is suitable for entrained flow reactors, which can enable high capture efficiencies.
  • The CaLby2030 project will build three pilot plants at TRL 6 for cement, iron & steel, and WtE.
  • Considering CH4 emissions will be more and more important, the future need for CCS and the role of natural gas, in general, will be sensitive to CH4 emissions.
  • Electrochemical ocean CDR (in this case, the CO2 is removed from the ocean, not stored in the ocean) potentially has a Gt capacity but still has challenges to overcome, such as membrane fouling and developing robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) schemes. The technology is currently at TRL 5 and costs about $3,000/tCO2.
  • The target of reducing DACCS cost to $100/tCO2 or lower by 2050 seems less and less realistic, $200-300/tCO2 might be more likely and still a challenge.
  • The overwhelming majority (93%) of credits sold in voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) in 2022 were avoidance credits at $10-20/tCO2. Removal credits were much more expensive, i.e. $100-1,000/tCO2, and much less purchased.
  • To achieve carbon neutrality, California will require 125 Mt/a of negative emissions by 2045. It is expected that natural solutions will deliver 25 Mt, bioenergy/biomass with CCS (BECCS/BiCRS) 83 Mt, and DACCS the remaining 17 Mt. The least cost pathway to achieve this will result in an average cost of $65/tCO2 (range: $10-200/tCO2).

On 22 June, NCS C+, NCCS and ACCSESS organised an invitation-only workshop titled ‘Delivering negative emissions via bioCCS and DAC: Status and moving forward’, which I attended on behalf of IEAGHG. There were two parallel discussion sessions, one on BECCS and one on DACCS, and I participated in the latter one to contribute the knowledge from our recent studies on DACCS and NETs. The workshop took place under Chatham House rules, so only some high-level messages are mentioned here:

  • More providers in the VCM now allow for the purchase of pre-credits, i.e. buying credits from projects that do not operate yet.
  • An analysis of the negative emissions window for BECCS in Norway points to a potential of 2-8 MtCO2/a (supply chain emissions not yet included).
  • For the manganese industry, there are two promising pathways to achieve carbon neutrality: CCS and using bio-carbon as a coke replacement. However, bio-carbon of the required quality is currently not commercially available.
  • It was reiterated that the target of reducing DACCS cost to $100/tCO2 or lower by 2050 seems less and less realistic. Even DACCS at a price of $1,000/tCO2 can be considered cost competitive for around 20% of today’s emissions. There is confirmation from LCA’s that DACCS results in significant CDR but this does not apply to every location. Penalties mainly arise from the heat and electricity inputs, so DACCS on grids with high carbon intensity can hardly achieve CDR. Increases in other LCA impact categories apart from the carbon footprint can be observed but there are quite moderate. 

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