Denmark grants its first licenses to store carbon deep under the North Sea

Denmark granted its first licenses for carbon capture and storage in the Danish part of the North Sea. The country expects to trap 13 million tons of carbon dioxide underground per year from 2030 with these licenses.

carbon storage
In a carbon capture and storage strategy, liquified carbon dioxide is sent down deep underground to be stored indefinitely | © Greensand project

Denmark granted three licenses for carbon capture and storage in the Danish part of the North Sea, the ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities announced on February 6. With these licenses, Denmark foresees storage of at least 13 million tons of carbon yearly in its underground from 2030.

The licenses were given to INEOS, Wintershall DEA as part of the Greensand consortium project and TotalEnergies for the Bifrost project.

INEOS and Wintershall DEA estimate they will be able to store 1.5 million tons of carbon per year before the end of 2025 – and upwards of 8 million tons yearly in 2030. This corresponds to emissions from approximately 725.000 Danes a year – or more than 13% of Denmark’s annual CO2 emissions. TotalEnergies estimate that they will be able to store more than 5 million tons of carbon annually from 2030.

According to the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Denmark has a storage potential of up to 22 billion tons, which accounts for about 500 to 1,000 years of Danish carbon emissions.

Investments in the Greensand and Bifrost projects amount to 612 million Danish crowns (88 million dollars), with the Danish state funding 46 percent of it.

Storing carbon deep underground has gained interest from countries and industries as a way to meet climate goals and reduce emissions. It is also a new business opportunity for Denmark.

With carbon capture and storage, carbon dioxide is captured from industrial plants and pressurized so that it becomes liquid. Then, it is sent by ships or pipelines to a place where carbon is stored deep underground in reservoirs or saline aquifers.

With the licenses, the three companies will store carbon in depleted oil and gas fields and previously unexplored saline aquifers 1 to 2 kilometers under seabed by pumping the CO2 into small pockets in sandstone or limestone layers and thus buried under thick layers of impermeable claystone.

The North Sea is a central area in Europe for offshore oil, gas and wind power.

Denmark also plans to develop onshore carbon capture and storage strategy.

In a pilot project from Greensand involved the Ineos Oxide factory in Belgium, where CO2 was sailed in special containers for a platform in the North Sea to send it down in a well.

In September, the Danish government signed a memorandum of understanding with Belgium on a framework for cross-border transportation of CO2 for geological storage in order to facilitate the international movement of carbon.

The Danish Energy Agency announced the same day it has suspended the processing of all pending offshore wind turbine projects as they may be in breach of European Union law. Denmark expects to increase fivefold its offshore wind power capacity by 2030, corresponding to 9GW of offshore wind. The ministry declared the goals remain unchanged as it investigates the reasons for the suspension.

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