OSLO (Reuters) - Oslo’s main trash incinerator has shown promising results in the world’s first experiment to capture greenhouse gases from the fumes of burning rubbish as a new way to slow climate change, officials said on Tuesday.
If built at full scale, however, the technology would be a very costly way to limit carbon dioxide emissions as part of an international agreement to curb global warming reached by almost 200 nations at a summit in Paris in 2015.
So far, research into capturing carbon has focused mainly on emissions at the chimneys of coal-fired power plants. It had been unclear if the same could be applied at an incinerator for municipal and household waste.
“We had very promising results,” said Oscar Graff, head of carbon capture, utilization and storage at Aker Solutions, which ran the year-long test since January 2016 with a facility bolted onto Oslo’s main Klemetsrud waste incinerator.
“Here you have almost everything which can burn ... plastics, tyres, suitcases, whatever,” he told Reuters. He said the test found “no show stoppers” such as chemical reactions producing damaging foam, pollution or emissions to the air.
The incinerator, which generates energy for heating buildings in the Norwegian capital, emits about 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, about 0.6 percent of Norway’s total.
“Technically it should be possible to build” a carbon capture plant, Johnny Stuen, technical director for the Klemetsrud waste project, told Reuters.
The Norwegian government estimates that a carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant such as Klemetsrud would cost at least 7.2 billion crowns ($866.61 million), including costs of shipping and burying the gases in a depleted North Sea oilfield.
That would put the cost of avoiding a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions at above 100 euros ($107) a tonne, Stuen said, far above prices in a European carbon market of about 5.2 euros.
The Klemetsrud CCS plant would start in 2022 if the government approves it. Companies in Germany and Sweden have expressed interest in the technology, Graff said.
Around the world, CCS projects have often run into delays and cancellations because of high costs. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a hoax, wants fewer regulations on the fossil fuel industry.
On Monday, however, an international report said the world may need 4,000 big CCS plants by 2030, against only a few dozen now in operation or planned, to get on track for the Paris goals for limiting heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.
“The growth in solar and wind has been great, but it needs to accelerate, and there are yawning gaps like CCS,” said lead author Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.
($1 = 8.3082 Norwegian crowns)
($1 = 0.9341 euros)
Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Tom Heneghan
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