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Why 2023 must be the year of carbon capture and storage

The momentum is with carbon capture and storage (CCS), but during 2023 and beyond, collaboration and affordability are key if CCS is going to drive a sustainable future for the planet    

Author: Jan Gerhard Norstrøm  
Managing Director, The LedaFlow Technologies Joint Venture  

The energy industry made a significant breakthrough in 2022 by moving from just talking about energy transition to putting words into action. We saw noteworthy investment in net-zero projects, and also saw the industry starting to truly embrace carbon capture and storage (CCS).

On top of that, it has also woken up to the critical role that simulation technology can play in driving cost-effective methods for CCS. Organisations are realising that either you implement CCS, or you get left behind by the competition.

However, the big challenge to the industry is keeping the CCS momentum going in 2023 and making it affordable to all. We can’t let it slip now.

Making CCS affordable

The IEA’s ‘Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’ report has stated that: “By 2045, new energy technologies will be widespread. A vast majority of cars on the roads will be running on electricity or fuel cells, planes will be relying largely on advanced biofuels and synthetic fuels, and hundreds of industrial plants will be using carbon capture and/or hydrogen around the world.” So, it cannot be overstated how fundamentally critical CCS is, and how important it is that the energy sector accelerate its use even further in 2023.

I recently read about some amazing figures from a solar power plant in the Middle East that is creating around $13 per megawatt hour, which is truly incredible. But in parts of Asia, they desperately need to bring down the cost of CCS to make energy affordable. Europe and the US have similar needs, but also have differences because the US can utilise vast rural areas, solar power in deserts, and rely less on offshore e.g. see White House Inflation Reduction Act.

However, CCS can only be truly effective when affordable to all. It’s no use if only Europe, the US, and the Middle East can pay for it. It must be a global effort. To do this, you need to first simulate these processes accurately. Simulation technology enables companies to analyse potential outcomes before committing to build anything. By basing investment decisions on accurate simulations, the potential cost savings are astronomical.

In order to make sure CCS is affordable for all, it has to be driven by collaboration. This is something we firmly believe in, but I will also say that the industry must get even better at it in 2023.

Kongsberg Digital’s LedaFlow is a software-based solution that companies can use to optimise field design and operation. We want to ensure this is available to all, so we believe in democratising it and making it commercially available through collaboration with energy companies.

In 2022, we received funding from The Research Council of Norway’s’ CLIMIT programme, which is Norway’s national programme for research, development, and demonstration of CCS. The funding was to further develop our LedaFlow technology for CO2 injections into depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers.

The funding also helped LedaFlow sign a contract with seven significant companies: three on the supply side (Kongsberg Digital, SINTEF Energy and SINTEF Industry) and also very recently with four of the biggest energy operators involved in CO2 transportation and storage (ConocoPhillips, TotalEnergies, Equinor, and ExxonMobil Technology & Engineering). We call this the CO2Flow project.

These types of joint ventures – and we have several others – make sure our technology is commercially available to all. This wouldn’t be possible if energy companies were developing separate technologies in-house because you wouldn’t be able to build industry around it, and it becomes too expensive. By collaborating in these joint ventures, we are accelerating the momentum behind CCS and staying on the UN’s path towards net-zero. In 2023, we need to see more of that.

This time next year, I would love to be talking about even more companies seizing the opportunity to join us. I am very hopeful that it will happen. CCS is expensive, but it is also very important, and we need to get it deployed, as we are in a hurry to help the industry reach its net-zero goals. 

But on the way there, I would like to invite and meet as many as possible in our user group meeting in Houston on the 9th of May 2023, where we have companies using our software presenting CCS applications.

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