Microsoft supporting Northern Lights project as tech partner

Equinor has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft to develop digital technologies for Norway’s ambitious Northern Lights carbon capture and storage initiative.

Northern Lights, which is a joint project between Equinor, Shell and Total, will focus on the transport of liquid CO2 from capture facilities to a terminal at Øygarden in Vestland County. From there, CO2 will be pumped through pipelines to a reservoir beneath the seabed.

Equinor Executive Vice President Irene Rummelhoff commented on the new link-up with Microsoft: ‘Carbon capture and storage is a proven technology and has the potential to play a key role in decarbonising energy and industries across sectors to meet international climate targets.

‘We look forward to working together with Microsoft and the Northern Lights partners to develop digital technologies for Northern Lights. We are also happy to partner with Microsoft to explore opportunities for the Northern Light project to remove carbon from Microsoft’s operations.

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, also added: ‘One of the world’s imperatives is the need to develop new ways to capture, transport, and permanently store carbon. This will require enormous investment and innovation, including a huge amount of computing power and data.

‘As a company, Microsoft is excited about and committed to supporting promising carbon capture approaches. Our goal is not only to contribute our technology and know-how, but explore how new solutions like the Northern Lights project can help us meet our own carbon negative goals by 2030.

Equinor, Shell and Total made a conditional investment decision on the Northern Lights CO2 transport and storage project in May 2020. Pending approval by regulatory authorities, the project partners will form a joint venture which will oversee the creation of an open-source, ship-based carbon transport and storage network, including developing business models to store captured CO2 from across Europe.

The final investment decision is subject to the Norwegian parliament’s approval which is anticipated later this year. If the go-ahead is given, the CCS initiative could begin operations in the first half of 2024.

MoUs have already been signed with eight European firms who are looking at options for CO₂ delivery, transport and storage. of CO2: Air Liquide, Arcelor Mittal, Ervia, Fortum Oyj, HeidelbergCement AG, Preem, Stockholm Exergi and ETH Zürich.

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes