Equinor and Captura are partnering to develop industrial-scale carbon removal from the ocean, starting with a pilot plant in Norway.
The companies plan to scale Captura’s direct ocean capture (DOC) technology, which removes carbon from seawater to then be permanently stored or reused. According to Captura, the renewable energy-powered process requires zero additives and does not produce byproducts, making it a low-cost, environmentally-conscious option for widespread adoption.
The pilot plant will be built onshore at Equinor’s Kårstø natural gas processing facility, where DOC technology will be further tested as a potential source for carbon removal credits, often used by hard-to-decarbonize sectors to meet net-zero targets. The pilot plant will be able to remove 1,000 tons of carbon from the ocean annually, the companies said.
Captured carbon will be used in the commissioning of the Northern Lights facilities, a carbon transport and storage infrastructure project made with investments from Equinor, Shell, and TotalEnergies. According to the companies, the facilities represent the world’s first open-source carbon transport and storage infrastructure.
“We believe that Captura has a promising and sustainable technology that could play a pivotal role in removing CO2 from the carbon cycle,” said Morten Halleraker, senior vice president and head of new business and investments in Equinor. “We look forward to the collaboration with Captura by bringing in our industrial capabilities in order to de-risk and scale the deployment of the technology.”
Pilot Marks a Final Step Toward Large-Scale DOC Deployment
The Kårstø plant, set to be installed in the fall of 2024, follows additional test sites used to evaluate Captura’s technology. In 2022, a system able to capture one ton of carbon a year was installed in California, and a 100-ton-per-year system was recently installed at the Port of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles system, a collaboration with AltaSea, allowed for a semi-contained environment to evaluate the effects of DOC on ocean ecosystems and its feasibility in helping reduce ocean acidification. The latest project is reportedly the final system in Captura’s pilot and scale-up program and should demonstrate the technology’s readiness for commercialization.
According to the International Energy Association, carbon capture is a helpful tool in decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors, yet it lags behind carbon-reducing expectations at present. The technology reportedly has gained momentum in recent years but requires more support for research and development to make the technology more widely available.
Captura said it plans to license the technology to deployment partners around the world following the final pilot project, allowing for quick, widespread adoption of the DOC system.