Two UK Garbage Incinerators Will Ship CO2 to Norway for Subsea Storage

Cory's loading pier and waste-incineration plant on the Thames. A second plant will be completed nearby in the coming years, and both will ship captured CO2 to Northern Lights (Cory)

Published May 15, 2022 5:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cory, one of the largest waste-management companies in the UK, has signed on to ship CO2 collected from garbage incinerator plants and ship it to Norway's first offshore carbon storage facility. 

Under the terms of the deal, Cory will collect about 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year from two London-area waste incineration plants by 2030. The carbon will be compressed, loaded aboard carbon-carrier ships and delivered to the Northern Lights storage facility in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. The project mirrors the carbon-capture plan at Fortum's waste incineration plant in Oslo, which will ship 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum for storage at the same site by 2026.

The agreement was announced at a conference at the Norwegian embassy in London, in the presence of Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and UK Secretary of State for Industry Kwasi Kwarteng.

"Carbon capture and storage is the only realistic way to reduce CO2 emissions from industries such as cement production and waste management," said Støre. "Waste treatment and disposal currently accounts for roughly five percent of global CO2 emissions. Energy recovery from waste combined with CO2 capture is vital in this context."

The partnership is an early demonstration of the possibility of cross-border carbon storage agreements, and it demonstrates the primary business case for Northern Lights. The offshore project is source-agnostic: anyone with an industrial supply of CO2, a loading terminal and a suitable ship could potentially negotiate a commercial agreement to store their carbon in the North Sea. 

Northern Lights is operated by Equinor, Shell and Total, and it leverages their offshore oil and gas expertise for a new purpose. The first phase will be ready in mid-2024 with a capacity of up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year, and its developers suggest that it has the capacity to expand to up to five million tonnes annually. It is the storage component of the Norwegian government's Longship project, a broader carbon capture, transport and sequestration initiative. 

"The importance of this agreement is threefold: it could be a step forward for CCS in the UK, a vital part of progressing the country’s net zero ambitions; it could help to consolidate our trading relationship with Norway, one of the UK’s key energy partners; and it could create an initial template for an international carbon market," said Dougie Sutherland, the CEO of Cory.