Norway opened the CO2 Technology centre Mongstad (TCM) on Monday to test the possibility of carbon capture.It certainly looks impressive.
Notes from the press release say that the plant is designed to capture around 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide per annum. Two nearby plants with differing CO2 outputs, a combined heat and power plant and the Mongstad refinery, will be used to test the plants capturing abilities, Reuters reports.
The hope is that the plant may be able to capture around 85 per cent of the CO2 from the plants. After capture, the gas could then be stored underground, though during the testing period it will be captured and then released.
The $1 billion plant is not only the largest carbon capture plant in the world, but its also the most technologically advanced and flexible, Energy Efficiency News reports. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the plant “Norway’s moon landing”.
The plant has had a somewhat troubled history. The BBC’s Richard Black reports that Norway’s government has been pushing for a carbon capture facility for quite some time — in 2000 Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik resigned because when he split with his government over whether the Mongstad refinery should contain one when built.
In 2006 the government agreed to build the plant with the largely state-controlled Statoil and a number of smaller partners. It’s costs have rapidly spiraled out of control, coming in over 10 times the original budget. Der Spiegel notes that the plant is only one part of a very ambitious plan — the hope is that when the carbon dioxide is pushed underground it will enter a transcontinental circulation system, using the CO2 to push out natural gas from underground deposits (which will in turn be piped elsewhere).
Whether the facility will be worth that investment remains to be seen. The Guardian’s environment blog sees the TCM as a possible model for carbon capture, once a bright hope but faltering seriously since the financial crisis.
But of course, the standard concerns about carbon capture (not just its cost, but its basic feasibility) remain.
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