Clean-up candidate

The coal-fired power station at the Longyearbyen mining settlement in Norway’s Svalbard islands is being seen as a possible location for carbon capture and storage (CCS).
  • Astri Sivertsen and Tone Johanne Sund (photos)


Today’s coal-fired power station in Longyearbyen could be replaced by a plant in Adventdalen equipped for CCS.


A full-scale CCS plant – dubbed Norway’s “moon landing” project – is already due to be built at the Mongstad refinery north of Bergen, following a decision by the Storting (parliament).

But the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy commissioned the state-owned Gassnova company in May 2011 to study opportunities for building other CCS facilities.

All known point carbon sources emitting more than 400 000 tonnes per year are under consideration, says press spokesperson Anne Margrete Blaker. These total some 10 large industrial plants.

Although it releases “only” 60 000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas annually, the 29-year-old Svalbard power station is also being looked at.

It generates heat and power for just over 2 000 residents in Longyearbyen and the nearby satellite stations, using locally-mined coal as fuel.

But diesel generators also have to be activated on particularly cold and windy days, reports general manager Marianne Aasen.

Today’s power station fails to release enough carbon dioxide to justify a CCS plant, she adds. So any capture project would mean constructing a completely new generating facility.

“We’re positive to installing CCS, but that would require the government to make the necessary funding available,” Aasen emphasises.

The power station consumes about 25 000 tonnes of coal per year, transported by lorry from Mine 7 about 15 kilometres from the settlement.

Operational since 1975, this source produces 70 000 tonnes per year. Output not required for electricity generation is exported – primarily to German steel mills.

The Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif) has ordered that the power station must install a treatment plant for sulphur, nitrogen oxide and particulates by September 2014.

Norway’s Conservative Party proposed earlier this year that a new generating facility with CCS be built in Longyearbyen, which it believes could be ready as early as 2015.

That would be five years before plans call for the full-scale plant at Mongstad to become operational. But a proposal to invest in such a plant in Svalbard was voted down by the Storting.

The Norwegian Society of Graduate Technical and Scientific Professionals (Tekna) has also become an enthusiast for a CCS plant in Longyearbyen.

It calculates that a full-scale facility there would cost a fraction of the planned installation at Mongstad, and has written to the prime minister to press the case.

The University Centre in Svalbard (Unis) is refusing to take a position on when and whether a CCS plant for the power station could be built.

But it would contribute expertise built up through five years of work on carbon storage to a possible project, says Ragnhild Rønneberg, head of the Longyearbyen carbon lab.

“We have a lot of expertise in this area, which is lacking in many other places. There’s also a potential storage site just five kilometres from the emission source.

“The short distance, combined with our know-how, means that this clearly represents a good place to build a CCS demonstration facility.”


Ragnhild Rønneberg 

Longyearbyen is clearly a good place for carbon capture and storage, maintains Ragnhild Rønneberg. The Unis building is on the left.


Seeking storage solutions

The Longyearbyen carbon lab has been established to develop and test technology for storing the greenhouse gas and to identify a suitable site for emissions from the local power station.

Norway’s only coal-fired generating facility supplies the settlement of just over 2 000 people with electricity and heat, and emits 60 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Established in 2007, the lab is a wholly owned subsidiary of the University Centre in Svalbard (Unis), which belongs in turn to the Ministry of Education and Research.

In addition to the Research Council of Norway, it is supported by ConocoPhillips, Statoil, Lundin, Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani, Statkraft, Gassnova, LNS and Baker Hughes.

The NPD sits on the management committee for the lab, which collaborates extensively with universities in mainland Norway and a number of research institutes. It offers MSc and PhD courses.

Candidates other than Mongstad for potential CCS projects in Norway

- Alcoa’s aluminium works in Mosjøen
(and possibly in Finnmark)

- Gassco’s gas processing plant at Kårstø

- Heidelberg Cement’s mill in Kjøpsvik

- Hydro’s aluminium plant at Sunndalsøra

- Industrikraft Møre’s possible power station in Fræna

- Ineo’s Noretyl petrochemical plant in Bamble

- Ironman – possible ironworks at Tjeldbergodden

- Naturkraft’s gas-fired power station at Kårstø

- Statoil’s Hammerfest LNG gas liquefaction plant
(existing and possible trains)

- Yara’s ammonia plant in Porsgrunn

- Bydrift Longyearbyen’s possible new coal-fired power station

Source: Gassnova

Topics: Environment