The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority has approved a Norwegian full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project to help Norway reduce its carbon footprint and meet the European goal of climate-neutrality by 2050.

Announced on Friday (17th July), the approval allows for the establishment of carbon capture facilities at Norcem, a cement factory in Brevik, and Fortum Oslo Varme, a Waste-to-Energy plant.

The captured CO2 is then to be transported and stored deep below the seabed in the North Sea. This part of the process is to be carried out by a joint venture between Shell, Total and Equinor, known as Northern Lights. 

“This CCS project is a ground-breaking step towards tackling climate change – an issue that affects all of us,” said Bente Angell-Hansen, President of ESA.

“Protecting the environment is at the heart of the European agenda, and ESA is pleased to work with Norway and the European Commission to find ways to support this important goal.”

CCS has already been recognised by the European Union as a key technology to decarbonise carbon-intensive sectors, and by supporting the project, the Norwegian government hopes to help further scale up of CCS globally.

The project will establish infrastructure for capture transport and storage of CO2 emissions that can pave the way for future investments, innovation and technology in CCS as a climate change mitigation tool.

The full-scale CCS project promises to become the first of its kind to go live in Europe. It has a budget of up to €2.57bn (NOK 27.6bn), which will cover construction and ten years of operation. The Norwegian government would cover around 80% of the project’s estimated budget.