Norwegian-Swedish climate cooperation on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and ‘green’ construction materials

Representatives from Oslo, Gothenburg and Bellona visit waste incineration plant in Klemetsrud, Oslo.

Publish date: January 18, 2018

Norway and Sweden, Oslo and Gothenburg, must join forces for CO2 management; it is key for important emission cuts. In addition, the public sector has, through green public procurement, a crucial influence on cutting emissions by demanding cleaner solutions, for example for construction materials.

OSLO – Norway and Sweden, Oslo and Gothenburg, must join forces for CO2 management; it is key for important emission cuts. In addition, the public sector has, through green public procurement, a crucial influence on cutting emissions by demanding cleaner solutions, for example for construction materials.

This was the main conclusion from Bellona’s forum in Oslo, 16 January. The forum is the second in the line about on the topic of Nordic carbon capture and storage (CCS) cooperation. Two main issues discussed were the procurement of ‘green’ construction materials such as concrete, and CO2 capture from waste incineration plants. Moreover, the role of new markets and the public sector are important for the costs and demand side.

Norwegian-Swedish cooperation is key

“CCS is essential to reaching the climate targets. We will not succeed without it”, said Bellona advisor Olav Øye.

The forum gathered representatives from industry, municipality of Oslo and Gothenburg, and environmental NGOs in the discussion around greenhouse gas emissions cuts from industry.

“The potential is great. The public sector has an important role to play, together with the governments of Norway and Sweden”, said Øye.

Three CCS projects around the Oslo fjord can showcase how CO2 capture plants can be built on cement and waste incineration plants.

Read more about the three planned CCS plants in Norway here.
Read more about the Norwegian state budget cuts for CCS implementation

Neighbour cooperation

“Norway and Sweden are neighbours. It is therefore especially efficient and important to work together on such large-scale projects”, said Elisabeth Undén from Gothenburg Energy and the Gothenburg Environmental Party. Undén pointed out that Norway possess the storage sites for example in old reservoirs under the North Sea, while Sweden has large emissions from industry along the coast. Thesecan be captured and shipped to these Norwegian storage sites.

Sweden has also worked with CO2 capture and has similarities with Norway when it comes to industry and society. “When both have contributed to such high emissions, we have a shared responsibility to clean up after ourselves. And we have to work together” cloncluded Undén.

The role of green public procurement in construction materials

One cement plant that contributes to large CO2 emissions is Norcem in Brevik, Norway. Director for alternative fuels and sustainability, Per Brevik, called for clearer environmental requirements from the public sector.

“Then we can deliver ‘green’ concrete with less emissions”, he said.

In the next few years, roads, schools and other public buildings will be built for many billion NOK in the Oslo area alone. Similarly in Gothenburg, there are building plans for several thousand new apartments. And all this requires a lot of concrete.

“Often regulations and standards act as obstacles in delivering low-emission materials. The public sector must do something about it”, said Brevik. He also explained that his company used low-emission conctrete in the building of Bjørvika tunnel under the sea in Oslo, despite lack of environmental requirements.

Oslo municipality will now place more emphasis on environment and climate, not just price, when purchasing. The role of emissions-free construction sites is one of the municipality’s priorities. It can make building more cost-efficient, at the same time as the construction companies themselves demand stricter environmental requirements.

“In public procurement, environmental requirements now account for 1/3 of the decision, that’s the law, said Bettina Thorvik, city council secretary in Oslo municipality. Only concrete from plants with installed CO2 capture can lower the emissions significantly.

Gothenburg and other municipalities can do the same. Large public procurement thus creates a market for environmentally friendly solutions.

Read more about decarbonisation of cement production here.

Lowering the climate impact of waste

In Norway, landfills are forbidden, and the EU is also moving in the same direction. Waste incineration provides good solution to the ever-increasing waste problem, but will always account for large CO2 emissions. However, the emissions from waste incineration plants are relatively easy to capture.

“There is hardly any other industry better suited for CO2 capture than waste incineration plants, such as ours at Klemetsrud in Oslo”, said Jannicke Gerner Bjerkås, communications director at Fortum Oslo Heating. The waste incineration plant at Klemetsrud is one of three plants where full scale CO2 capture is being considered. Bjerkås believes the plant, which today contributes 20% of Oslo’s total CO2 emissions, can become a climate solution.

“60% of the waste burned is organic and part of the natural carbon cycle. By burning it and capturing the CO2, we take the emissions out of the cycle”, Bjerkås explained.

Read more about lowering waste incineration emissions here.

Tax on plastic?

Funding such CO2 plants is nevertheless a necessity, and the three plants in Norway require investment. Claes Roxbergh from the Framtiden Group in Gothenburg pointed to two possible solutions.

“The most obvious is tax on consumption, which is the cause of the problem in the first place, such as plastic. Then the consumers must pay the bill, or you can establish a CO2 fund”, he said. “In addition, it is important to have in mind that the price tag for such plants will come down quite quickly.”

He emphasized that recycling and “markets” would play an important role. “Fewer types of plastic will provide cleaner residues. Then you can recycle more and get a circular economy such as newsprint, glass and, for the moment, two kinds of plastic. The economy will determine a lot”, concluded Roxbergh.

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