Three of the largest ports in Europe – Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent – are to be used to capture and bury 10m tonnes of CO2 emissions under the North Sea in what will be the biggest project of its kind in the world.
The ports, which account for one-third of the total greenhouse gas emissions from the Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg region, will be used to pipe the gas into vast cavities two miles (3km) below the seabed.
It's hoped the project will be completed by 2030 but the scale of the storage, in two empty gas fields, is unprecedented and raises questions about how the CO2 will affect the deep subsurface, according to the Dutch government.
The goal is to construct a CO2 network in the port of Rotterdam by 2026, with work then to be completed in the following four years on a cross-border pipeline to Antwerp and the North Sea port by Ghent.
A further expansion beyond the initial 10m tonnes of C02 is expected after 2030.
The total emissions of the business activities in the ports amount to more than 60m tons of CO2 a year.
The world’s first large-scale carbon storage project was developed in 1996 off the Norwegian coast, injecting 1m tonnes a year into a void 1,000m beneath the seabed.
The largest initiative in the world to date is the Petra Nova project in Texas, which was launched in 2017 and is attached to a coal-fired power station.
It has an annual capture capacity of 1.4m tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of the emissions produced by 350,000 cars.
The pipeline planned for the European ports project – known as Porthos – will have the capacity to transport 5m tonnes of CO2 a year.