A Norwegian delegation has just returned from a study tour to Canada, where they have been learning about effective CCS policy and successful projects.
-It has been a very informative and inspirational trip, showing how a combination of political will and financial interests have sparked CCS in Canada, says Camilla Svendsen Skriung, policy adviser in ZERO.
When one thinks about countries being in the forefront to tackle climate change, Canada would most likely not be on the list. Canada has one of the lowest emission targets for 2020* and is the only nation that has withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol.
Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are large and growing rapidly, partly as a result of improved recovery of oil sands and some regions dependency on fossil fuel.
Nevertheless, Canada is the first place where the CO2 mitigating technology CCS - Carbon Capture and Storage – is being used and developed in full scale on coal. The SaskPower CCS project on the coal power plant Boundary Dam was opened in October mitigating 1 million tons of CO2 a year. And the province of Alberta has quite effective regulations for CCS, realizing two projects in the coming years.
The study group consisted of people from The Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, the department of Geology at the University of Oslo, The Christian Michelsens Reseach Institute, The Institute for Energy, the Canadian embassy to Norway, and ZERO. Unfortunately no politicians or representatives from the Norwegian authorities attended.
-The study tour had a very useful and good program. It is significant that none of the civil service, Parliament or Government prioritized to be on the trip, says Svendsen Skriung. Norway has for a long time been in front when it comes to CCS. We have had good research and technology development, and also prominent key CO2 storage projects. But now a lack of political will put the focus on CCS in Norway forward in danger, she says.
-Norwegian politicians seem to need inspiration and new knowledge when it comes to CCS. In Canada they have several existing CCS projects, and some regions have good policies that are helping to secure funding for CCS.
The Canadian Government decided in 2012 emission regulations for coal-fired generation of electricity, posing the emission limit of 420 tons of CO2 per GWh to all new coal plants plus on existing plants older than 50 years.
-It is inspiring to see how this regulation sparked SaskPower to plan and build the Boundary Dam CCS project. And the fact that they were able to do this in three years with a relative low budget, is good news for the deployment of CCS on a large scale worldwide, says Camilla Svendsen Skriung in ZERO.
The Government of Alberta have several instruments in place to ensure building of CCS projects. The CCS Act, a kind of a competition for funding, has financed the Shell Quest project and the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL). The funding is organized in specific agreed milestones, the two projects therefore gets their funding in portions as the different goals are being achieved.
The group visited the Quest project which will mitigate 1 million ton of CO2 emissions a year. In this case from the Scotford oil refinery. They also had a meeting with Enhance Energy who is building the 240 kilometer long CCS pipeline, the ACTL. This pipeline system is designed to take 2 billion tons of CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) activity. Having a transport opportunity means ensuring that CCS is a potential business case for the industry in this region, which really is key for the development says Skriung.
These examples of a political framework for CCS show how CCS can be backed by the authorities, and how it is possible to ensure a market for this climate technology.
It is important to look to regions and countries that now lead the way, learn from their experience and apply knowledge from existing projects. It is not technology that is lacking, it's actual policy measures and a proper financial commitment.