A waste-to-energy plant running in the Norwegian capital of Oslo could soon utilise ground-breaking CCS technology to help reduce carbon emissions as the country looks to power ahead with its green recovery.

That’s the end goal for international energy company Fortum which is currently working on the ambitious project that, if successful, will be responsible for decarbonising the plant that has been operating in the city since 1985.

Playing a large part in this effort is Jannicke Gerner Bjerkås, Director for CCS at Fortum Oslo Varme.

Fully emersed in the plans and developments, Bjerkås and her team have been working around the clock to make this goal a near-term reality. To find out exactly what they are working on, the advantages of such effort and plans for the future, gasworld spoke exclusively to Bjerkås.

“Fortum is burning non-recyclable waste to provide a sustainable solution for discarded product that cannot be recycled,” she explained.

During that burning process of non-recyclable waste, the plant’s integrated CCS technology will capture approximately 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is emitted. Bjerkås explained that about 50% of this CO2 has a biological origin, meaning it is part of the natural CO2 cycle.

“When we capture that CO2, in effect, we’re taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. We know this will be very important in order for the EU to reach its climate goals,” she said.

Once captured, the CO2 is then conditioned and compressed into liquid form before being transported to port by zero emission vehicles that Fortum is using as part of the project. At the port, the CO2 is then ready for immediate storage where it will be injected via pipeline for permanent storage beneath the seabed.

Speaking to gasworld about the effort, Bjerkås, said, “Waste energy is very much accepted and established in Norway as part of a sustainable waste handling, especially when connected to district heating. District heating covers about 20% of the heat demand in Oslo, and with our project, we can reduce the city’s climate emissions by about 15%.”

Mature and ready to go, Fortum hopes the project will be fully operational in 2026, subject to funding. With funding the only requirement to get the project underway, those working on the venture are now pushing for the necessary capital from the EU’s innovation fund.

Such funds are needed for capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex) for the first ten years.

“We have applied for the first call of the Innovation Fund. By the end of first quarter 2021 we will know if we have advanced to phase two, and by the end of the year if we have been successful or not, but there is a lot of competition,” Bjerkås, continued.

“Saying that, we are competitive. We are mature and ready to go, and we can reduce large amounts of emissions. In addition to that, we are also demonstrating emissions free transport from our plant as we are not situated at a port.”

As the project is the first of its kind that Bjerkås has worked on, gasworld asked what she is most excited for and what stands out to her the most when she thinks of the project and its capabilities.

“I think the most exciting and meaningful thing for me is the fact that we can contribute to reducing emissions as a whole industry. And of course, if everything goes to plan, once complete we will be the first full scale carbon capture plant at a waste-to-energy site, and this is really important.”

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Source: Fortum

Shrinking landfill sites

As well as providing heat for Oslo and its surrounding areas, it is clear the project will also contribute help Europe to meet its wider decarbonisation targets that have recently gained more attention as a result of the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to gasworld about some of the landfill targets set out for the EU, Bjerkås explained that targets are now in place for sorting and recycling plants, as well as the reduction of landfill facilities.

Although these goals seem like a big positive, Fortum believes it is still not enough and more needs to be done. Speaking about this, Bjerkås, explained, “Even when the EU reaches its goals, which is 65% recycling and 10% landfills, there’s still 40 million tonnes of waste that we need to find a solution for, and we need a sustainable solution for this.”

“With that in mind, it is very reasonable to think that if we are to reach that goal of reducing landfills, we will need more waste energy capacity, and hopefully in the future, we will see these waste-to-energy plants integrated with carbon capture technologies.” 

Future developments

Focusing on Fortum’s future and its goals, Bjerkås told gasworld that whilst the waste-to-energy with CCS project is clearly a life-changing project for Norway, Fortum’s plant plans do not stop there.

It is estimated that approximately 450 waste-to-energy plants could benefit from the technology used in the Oslo-based Fortum plant, and by looking at how the design and operation could benefit other locations, Bjerkås explained that Fortum already has high hopes for Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

As mass roll out of the technology occurs, Bjerkås also hopes the price of the technology will start to drop, making the solution more appealing to potential customers. Speaking about the current cost of a plant, she explained, “The cost of maturing the project all the way through feasibility, concept and FEED, including the building and operation of a pilot plant, is in the range of €22m.”

“I think that the industry is now accepting this technology as the next step,” Bjerkås said as she elaborated on the expansion plans. “It is a very positive step forward for the technology to cut emissions.” 

“Of course, as the technology is rolled out, the cost comes down. It is very similar to what we saw with renewable technology such as wind turbines and solar panels. The more you scale up the more the costs come down.”

“There’s a lacking capacity of waste-to-energy plants in Europe and unfortunately a lot of unrecyclable waste ends up in landfills. If you take this waste into consideration, we will need approximately 100 new plants.”

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Source: Fortum