The Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy, and Utilities has awarded its first licences to capture and store carbon in the North Sea to Wintershall Dea, INEOS Energy and TotalEnergies.
Denmark has established a goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2045, and regards carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which collects CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and stores them underground, as critical to meeting that goal.
Efforts to promote the technology have gained traction in Europe in recent years, as industries and governments aim to cut emissions to meet their climate targets.
The Greensand project, led by INEOS and Wintershall, is projected to begin injecting up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 into depleted North Sea oil and gas fields by 2025, the ministry said.
By 2030, the project intends to boost capacity to 8 million tonnes per year.
TotalEnergies' Bifrost project plans to inject up to 3 million tonnes into a depleted oil and gas field starting in 2027, with a total injection capacity of 5 million tonnes by 2030.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), avoiding emissions through carbon dioxide capture and storage is more expensive than investing in renewables or transitioning to electric vehicles. However, CCS is a method of reducing emissions from difficult-to-clean sectors such as steel, cement, and chemicals.
The IPCC estimates that absorbing and storing a ton of CO2 costs between $50 and $100 in 2022. Even at this considerable cost, some academics believe it is worth it.
In December 2020, the Danish government pledged DKK197 million ($25 million) to the development and demonstration of CO2 storage in the North Sea.
The government expects the three projects to store 13 million tons of CO2 per year from 2030. It predicts that its depleted North Sea oilfields could store a total of 22 billion tons, equivalent to more than 500 years worth of Denmark's present emissions.