By John Ainger and Kari Lundgre (Bloomberg) —
The European Union and Norway will form a “Green Alliance” to strengthen cooperation in clean industries such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen, and strengthen the region’s potential as an energy technology hub.
The goal is to sign the alliance at a meeting of European state and energy ministers on April 24 in the Belgian port city of Ostend, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg. The North Sea is touted as an important source of renewable energy and also holds most of Europe’s carbon storage potential.
“The EU and Norway intend to work together to further develop European market rules and infrastructure for carbon capture, transport, use and storage,” reads the document, which is subject to change. “Both sides intend to work together to bring this key technology to markets to promote decarbonization of hard-to-reduce industrial sectors.”
Carbon capture and storage has become a key strategic technology for the EU to reach the Green Deal goal of being carbon neutral by mid-century. Last month, the bloc set a target of injecting 50 million tons of carbon dioxide annually into geological storage sites by 2030, to ensure Europe doesn’t fall behind China and the US in the race to produce clean tech.
The bloc has estimated it will need to catch 550 million tons annually through 2050 to reach its net-zero goals. According to The Bellona Foundation, an Oslo-based environmental non-profit, only about 1.7 million tons of CO2 are stored in Europe each year, mostly in Norway. In March, industrial companies injected CO2 below Denmark’s seabed for the first time.
The Norwegian government sees the development of hydrogen and carbon capture as an opportunity to capitalize on existing know-how while creating jobs as fossil fuel activity declines. Equinor ASA has been sequestering carbon in the Sleipner field in the North Sea since 1996, storing around 1 million tonnes of the pollutant annually.
More than 25 billion kroner ($2.4 billion) has been allocated to Norway’s Longship and Northern Lights projects, which aim to capture and liquefy emissions from industrial sites before pumping them into reservoirs under the North Sea.
The EU and Norway will also commit to creating a “full-fledged” market for hydrogen – another technology crucial to decarbonising the most carbon-intensive sectors such as steel.
The North Sea Summit will bring together leaders and energy ministers from nine countries, including the UK and Norway, to advance renewable energy deployment in the region and solidify plans for an energy island. The countries will also address concerns about the security of energy infrastructure following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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