A new carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, called “Greensand,” is set to launch in Esbjerg, Denmark. Led by Ineos and Wintershall Dea, the project is situated in an old oil field and aims to store up to eight million tons of CO2 per year until 2030. What makes Greensand different from other CCS projects is that it uses carbon transported by ship from faraway regions. The gas is transferred to a reservoir 1.8 km deep near the Nini West platform at the edge of Norwegian waters. This unique approach allows the Danish authorities to store carbon emissions not just from their own country but also from others, positioning CCS as an essential part of Denmark’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
The North Sea is an ideal region for burying CO2, given its many pipelines and geological reservoirs left empty from years of oil and gas production. CCS pioneer Norway will also receive liquefied CO2 from Europe in the coming years. The quantities of CO2 stored by such projects remain small in comparison to the magnitude of emissions, with the EU emitting 3.7 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2020 according to a report by the European Environment Agency.
While CCS has been considered technically complex and costly, it is now regarded as necessary, both by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency. However, the energy-intensive process used to capture and store CO2 produces the equivalent of 21% of the gas captured, according to an Australian think tank, IEEFA. There are also potential risks associated with the technique, including leaks that can cause catastrophic consequences. Environmental advocates have criticized CCS as a way to maintain harmful structures, rather than addressing the core sources of emissions such as agriculture and transport.
Despite these concerns, CCS has a vital role to play in reducing global warming. “The cost of storing carbon needs to be reduced if it is to become a durable mitigation solution as the industry matures,” says Morten Jeppesen, director of the Center for Marine Technologies at the Danish University of Technology. Through initiatives like Greensand, CCS may help us limit CO2 in the atmosphere and pave the way toward a more sustainable future.