In 2011, CLIMIT received far more applications and was awarded significantly more funds than in the previous year. "This has been an eventful year with a wide spectrum of projects covering the various areas within CO2 handling," says Klaus Schöffel, head of the CLIMIT secretariat and director of Technology and Expertise in Gassnova.
In total, NOK 161.4 million were allocated to CLIMIT projects. CLIMIT demo awarded a record-breaking NOK 92.4 million. This is a significant increase from 2010, when a total of NOK 56 million were awarded. Within CLIMIT R&D, NOK 71.9 million were awarded to 15 projects following stiff competition between 27 relevant applications.
Milestone at Hurum
A very important storage project started this year at Hurum, outside Oslo. CO2 is injected into the Svelvik ridge to see how early one can detect leaks and unwanted movement.
"The Hurum project is a milestone of international interest within field trials. It will enable us to gain practical experience through intentionally provoking controlled CO2 leaks in a sand pit, and to see how well we are able to measure leaks, "Schöffel says.
He also points to a positive trend from the oil industry, which submitted a few minor applications this year. "It is positive that the oil industry uses experience from the industry for CO2 storage. I would like to see even more of this," he says.
New development in SOLVit
As for capture, the major SOLVit project is now in the second phase. The project focuses on developing more energy-efficient chemicals and processes for CO2 capture from exhaust in gas and coal powered power plants.
"By the end of the year, a new international player had signalled interest in participating in the project," Schöffel says.
First industrial project
Industry was included in the CLMIT portfolio in 2010. While CLIMIT previously only awarded funds for CO2 capture from energy generation, the mandate was expanded to also include industrial emissions.
The first industrial project started last year at Norcem's cement plant in Brevik. In a pilot study, the investment need in order to facilitate testing of various technologies to capture CO2 from the cement plant's exhaust has been studied. This part of the project is now in a final phase.
Health and the environment
One of the areas in which CLIMIT has made an important contribution in 2011 is in connection with the risk of emissions of potentially hazardous substances from amine-based CO2 capture. 12 such projects have been awarded NOK 852 million since 2008.
"Through CLIMIT-sponsored projects, this risk has been significantly reduced," says Schöffel.
Use of CO2
This year, CLIMIT received more applications than before for projects looking to use CO2 in products or for other purposes once the gas has been captured. However, CLIMIT only funds projects which have an effect on the climate. Use of CO2 where the CO2 eventually will be released is therefore not eligible. If the CO2 is used in plastics, which is then burned, then the CO2 would be returned to the atmosphere fairly quickly.
"But projects that could lead to a more rapid commercialisation of CO2 capture technology by providing a positive contribution to the economy in CO2 handling projects could be of interest. This is a complex, but exciting area. We have funded pilot studies for life cycle analyses, to get an impression of the carbon accounts of projects where carbon is used in products," Schöffel says.
Norway has large and internationally recognised research environment, but few large industrial users of the research products who can mature them to commercialisation. It is therefore important to establish research partnerships with large international players, according to Klaus Schöffel.
"Since 2007, we have sponsored a major project for hydrogen combustion with SINTEF, with both a French gas turbine manufacturer and a German research centre as participants. Phase two of the projects started this year. In the projects, leading environments in various areas are connected," he says.
Another example is the Norcem project, which has gained international attention through the involvement of the European Cement Research Academy. And participants in the Hurum project include British Geological Survey and the University of Montpellier, France.
"The capture and storage project in Saleh in Algeria is an example of a major international project where Norwegian players participate with the support of CLIMIT, in, for instance, developing monitoring methods," Schöffel says.
Successful CLIMIT conference
The CLIMIT conference, held for the second time in 2011, was a huge success.
"We gathered the entire Norwegian CO2 handling environment, a total of 140 participants, for discussions and exchange of information. The participants were very passionate, and the active group discussions were greatly appreciated. This is an important initiative that we will continue," Schöffel says.
One of the biggest challenges in the time ahead is to get more demonstration facilities up and running. Klaus Schöffel emphasizes that there is need for more facilities where technology can be tested and verified. But with the current market situation, the industry seems unwilling to take the risk of investing in costly prototypes.
"Establishing a carbon market has taken longer than we initially thought. The full scale facility at Mongstad will come later, and prototypes in Europe are not progressing as we had hoped. We will take this into consideration when formulating the strategy up to 2016," he says.
In need of new ideas
Schöffel points out that the test centre at Mongstad (TCM), currently under construction, will provide excellent opportunities for testing and verifying technologies. Two different facilities are being built at TCM, but there is space available to test more technologies. There is a great need to promote new, ground-breaking ideas that can reduce costs associated with CO2 capture, which are currently too high.
"The market will come when expected quota prices are level with the measure costs to avoid CO2 emissions, or when other regulations are adopted. CLIMIT can contribute to supporting the development of cost-efficient technology, while the market and political decision can do something about the quota price. We have organised a number of workshops this year which looked into the potential in various areas. Here there has been a focus on how to cultivate more projects, and what is needed for them to be successful, " Schöffel says.