The Danish government awarded three licenses to develop carbon capture and storage technology in its territorial waters of the North Sea. Photo courtesy of Shell.
Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The Danish government said Monday it awarded contracts for carbon capture and storage to three major energy companies in its first-ever pursuit of the sequestration technology.
Denmark awarded one license each to French company TotalEnergies, German energy company Wintershall and Britain's INEOS to develop large-scale, carbon capture and storage projects in the Danish waters of the North Sea.
Lars Aagaard, the Danish minister for climate, energy and utilities, said these mark the first of its kind for the country.
"This is not just a step towards a new green industry in our North Sea -- it's a milestone for our green transition," he said. "Establishing carbon capture and storage as an industry means we can do it bigger and better -- and move faster towards our climate goals in the process."
Members of the European Union are working to become climate-neutral by 2050. Denmark on its own is looking to cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 70% of its 1990 levels and use renewables for half of its energy needs by the end of the decade.
The Danish government estimates the three projects combined could abate 13 million tons worth of carbon emissions each year. The potential, however, is much more, with the estimated 22 billion tons of storage capacity, "which corresponds to somewhere between 500 and 1000 years of Danish emissions if we were to fill it up ourselves," the government said.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is an evolving part of the energy transition, capturing emissions from the power sector and industrial polluters.
Last month, six energy companies, including Wintershall, applied to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the nation's energy regulator, to become commercial players in the effort to sequester CO2, a potent greenhouse gas. The NPD awarded its first permits for carbon storage offshore in 2019 at a site near the Troll natural gas field in the North Sea. The agency believes its North Sea territory has the potential to store more than 80 billion tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of 1,000 years worth of Norwegian emissions.
Carbon captured offshore would be stored in submarine geological formations.
"In September, we signed an agreement with Flanders and Belgium for international carbon-transport which means they'll be able to store their carbon-emissions in our underground -- and we're working towards securing more so we can utilize the full potential of our underground," the Danish minister said.