Norway Authority Demands CO2 Capture at Gas Plant
Author: John Acher
Energy group Statoil said the requirement could make the entire US$635 million project unfeasible.
The decision by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) contradicts an earlier recommendation by the country's energy authority NVE that the company should be permitted to build the plant without a CO2 capture system at the start-up.
The government will make the final decision on what kind of permit should be granted for the combined heat and power station, designed with capacity of 280 megawatts of power and 350 MW of heat, for a 2008-2009 start-up.
CO2 is the main gas blamed by many scientists for pushing up world temperatures. Carbon capture involves burying CO2 from power plants in porous rock underground or below the sea bed, sometimes with the added aim of boosting oil recovery.
Statoil said it regretted the decision by the SFT, which is an agency under the Ministry of the Environment.
"It is regrettable that the SFT does not support our assessment that the Mongstad heat and power station is an environmental project which should get an emission permit without a requirement for capturing carbon dioxide," the company said in a statement.
Statoil said that the project would be impossible to implement if the government follows the SFT's recommendation and demands CO2 capture from the start.
But it said it would not appeal against the SFT decision.
The SFT said in a statement it doubted that a CO2 capture system would ever be installed if the plant project were allowed to proceed initially without such equipment.
CO2 is the main gas blamed by many scientists for pushing up world temperatures.
"CO2 capture from day 1 gives the best security that a plant will be established at Mongstad that will not contribute to increase Norwegian emissions of climate gases in the long term," SFT Director Haavard Holm said in the statement.
"Human-created climate change is one of the biggest environmental challenges that the world faces," the SFT said. The SFT said that, without CO2 capture, the planned plant would have emissions of around 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 annually, though improvements to the refinery's efficiency would curb it to around 950,000 tonnes.
The planned Mongstad plant is one of three concrete plans for developing gas-fired electricity generation in Norway, which is Western Europe's biggest natural gas exporter but currently uses no gas for inland power production.
Use of gas has been highly controversial in Norway as it would boost emissions in a country that currently produces almost all its power at non-polluting hydroelectric stations.
But gas-fired generation projects have wide support in industry and have won political support as Norwegian power consumption has outstripped growth in production and Norway has no more major waterways to dam up to increase hydropower output.