It was hailed at the time as Norway’s “moon landing,” but Oslo’s outgoing government announced its plan to scrap a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility. Reuters reports:
The plan had been to capture carbon emissions from a natural gas plant at the site, which also hosts an oil refinery, and pipe them into underground storage on the Norwegian continental shelf. [...]
But low prices for carbon dioxide emissions and economic slowdown in many European nations had dimmed interest in the technology, the ministry said.
“A full-scale carbon dioxide capture facility is still the objective. The government has, however, concluded, after careful consideration, that the risk connected to the Mongstad facility is too high,” Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said.
CCS is certainly a technology to watch. If researchers can figure out how to cheaply and efficiently pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it underground, we could conceivably burn fossil fuels with reckless abandon without increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. But we’re clearly not there yet.
One Norwegian green described the government’s decision to Reuters as “one of the ugliest political crash landings we have ever seen.” We’re of a mind to agree—the government has funneled roughly $1.2 billion to CCS projects since 2007, and it looks like much of that will be written off. The government still intends to fund a CCS research and development facility with a much smaller price tag. Solely funding this R&D center would have been the smart play from the beginning, rather than investing in a full-fledged facility for a fledgling technology. It’s just the latest green policy to collapse into expensive ruins.
[Mongstad plant image courtesy of Dong Energy]