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March 10, 2021

Northern Lights CCS project to explore direct air capture

The Northern Lights CCS project, a partnership between Equinor, Shell, and Total, has announced plans to explore direct air carbon capture via Swiss company Climeworks.

By Matt Farmer

The Northern Lights CCS project, a partnership between Equinor, Shell, and Total, has announced plans to explore direct air carbon capture via Swiss company Climeworks.

The companies will assess the viability of using Climeworks’ air capture technology to supply CO₂ to the Northern Lights project. This would include looking at the supply chain and emissions from the proposed process.

In a statement, Northern Lights said that this would also include “possible use of facilities as part of new negative emissions solutions, addressing the need of companies in non-industrial sectors to lower their carbon emissions”. This would cater to businesses where emissions cannot otherwise be captured, such as in agriculture.

Northern Lights managing director Børre Jacobsen said: “There is growing awareness of the need to build capacity to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere [in order] to achieve net-zero by 2050. We are enthusiastic about this collaboration with Climeworks. Combined with safe and permanent storage, direct air capture has the potential to get the carbon cycle back in balance.”

Direct air capture extracts CO₂ from the air, while other methods capture emissions from industry. This makes the process carbon negative, assuming the required power comes from sustainable sources.

Climeworks air capture devices use renewable energy and waste heat to power modular collectors. The company currently operates a CO₂ mineralisation site in Iceland and offers a subscription model to consumers looking to offset their personal emissions. It also sells emissions offsetting to companies to help them reach and maintain net-zero carbon emissions.

At the same time, Northern Lights has officially launched its CO₂ transport and storage company after receiving regulatory permissions. On Tuesday, the country’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced its approval of plans for Northern Lights’ development and operation.

Following this, the joint venture plans to purchase its terminal and control room services from project leader Equinor. It will also purchase its phase two studies implementation from Total, and a shipbuilding contract with Shell.

The company says it has already started discussions with European customers that represent 48Mt of CO₂ production per year.

Northern Lights forms part of the Norwegian government’s Longship project to capture and store CO₂ emissions. State-owned company Equinor leads the joint venture and the Norwegian Government will spend approximately NOK25.1bn ($2.96bn).

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