CO2 (carbondioxide gas) is the primary greenhouse gas, which is naturally present in the atmosphere, but the concentration of the gas is being greatly increased through human activities. CO2 is released through the combustion of fossil fuels, by transport, power plants and industrial activities, among others. In order to reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies are available to selectively capture CO2 from the waste gases of power production and industrial processes, which can be subsequently transported and stored in deep geological formations (>1000 meters underground), isolating it from the atmosphere permanently.
The government aims for a low-CO2 economy in the Netherlands by 2050. CO2 capture and permanent storage (CCS) is an essential part of the Climate Agreement and necessary to achieve the 2030 climate target. As a bridging technology, CCS contributes to the transition to cost-efficient production technologies that emit less CO2 and thus contributes to the energy transition and the sustainability of industry. In the short term, the development of large-scale CCS projects is necessary for the implementation of government policy.
Permanent subsurface storage
Subsurface storage is an exceptionally space-effective method for storing very large quantities of substances. Various forms of storage are possible in the Dutch subsurface. For example, storage in porous layers, such as the space between sand grains in depleted gas fields or in aquifers.
In order to obtain a licence for the permanent storage of CO2, a storage plan consisting of a description of the operational strategy including a risk management, corrective measures, monitoring and closure plan must be submitted with the licence application. The plans should be finalised shortly before the start of injection. For this reason, these storage licences are awarded, but do not take effect until all related plans have been approved.
There are advanced plans to use depleted offshore natural gas fields to provide significant capacity for the permanent storage of CO2 in the coming years. For instance, off the coast of South Holland it is the Porthos project and in the K and L blocks it is the Aramis project. More information on the status of Porthos and Aramis can be found on Rijksoverheid. Also, exploration licences have been applied for for the storage of CO2. In these applications, exploration will focus on storing CO2 in deep saline aquifers.
Status of licences and changes in permits are published yearly on nlog.nl, in the Annual Report – Natural resources and Geothermal energy in the Netherlands and the interactive map.
To encourage the development of CCUS projects, these projects are also eligible for the “Stimulation of sustainable energy production and climate transition” (SDE++). This programme provides subsidies to companies and non-profit organisations that generate renewable energy or reduce CO2 emissions on a large scale.