Fortum Oslo Varme’s CCS project takes important step forward

Fortum Oslo Varme’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) project has moved a step closer to realisation after being shortlisted for financing from the EU’s €10bn Innovation Fund.

The project would be the world’s first full-scale commercial CCS operation at a waste-to-energy plant and, if successful, would also provide a significant boost to Norway’s important LongshipCCS initiative.

Fortum Oslo Varme (FOV) - a joint venture between the city of Oslo and Fortum and a member of the CCUS Project Network - said it was one of 70 projects to have reached the second round of the Innovation Fund’s first €1bn call. The 10-year fund, the successor to the EU’s NER 300 programme, supports commercial demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies, helping bring decarbonisation solutions to the market.

A second Fortum CCS project – the BECCS project developed by Stockholm Exergi, which it co-owns – also progressed to the second round.

“This is fantastic news. It shows the EU believes that CCS is an essential technology to achieve significant emission reductions from waste incineration,” said Jannicke Gerner Bjerkås, CCS director at Fortum Oslo Varme.

The project would capture 90% of the plant’s annual emissions of 400,000 tonnes of CO2, reducing Oslo’s CO2 emissions by 15%, a significant contribution to the city’s net-zero plans. Operational since 1985, the plant burns residual waste left over after reuse and recycling, supplying nearly 60% of the energy needs for Oslo’s district heating system.

“Realising our project will have a number of positive effects: Longship, will be more robust with two capture plants and we will be able to export carbon capture solutions to the more than 450 waste incineration plants in Europe,” said Marius Tednes, process engineer at FOV.

Longship brings together the Northern Lights CO2 transportation and storage project with FOV and Norcem’s planned cement CCS operation at Brevik. The Norwegian government has already pledged 50% funding for FOV, conditional on it winning matched funding from the EU. FOV has said it would be ready to commence operations as soon as the finance is in place.

Once captured, the CO2 would be stored on location in tankers before being transported by road to a port facility. From there, it would be taken offshore by boat and injected underground for permanent storage.

“Carbon-neutral cities are a prerequisite to fulfilling the Paris Agreement. The Fortum Oslo Varme waste-to-energy plant may serve as a blueprint for other cities’ sustainable waste management,” said Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo.

Stockhold Exergi’s BECCS project, meanwhile, would involve capturing CO2 from biomass fuels that are already climate-neutral, thus creating a carbon sink and removing up to 800,000 tonnes of CO2 a year from the atmosphere. As well as applying to the Innovation Fund - which covers up to 60% of projects’ costs over 10 years - it is pursuing other funding sources.

The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the world’s largest carbon pricing system, is providing the revenues for the Fund which runs from 2020 to 2030 and will support both large and small scale projects.

The 70 projects that have qualified for the second round have until 23 June to provide further information, with a final decision on successful recipients due in the fourth quarter. The Commission has not released details of the projects which have progressed but said 311 organisations responded to the initial call, of which 14 were CCS projects.