IEA chief urges Norway to return to CCS

Carbon call: IEA chief Maria van der Hoeven presses climate case

Norway should resume its lead in carbon capture and storage research to help meet global carbon emission reduction targets, the head of the International Energy Agency has said.

Speaking on Tuesday at ONS 2014, IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven expressed disappointment in the Norwegian government’s decision last September to terminate a full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the Mongstad refinery.

“I am concerned about the decision Norway has made on Phase 2 of the Mongstad project,” Van der Hoeven said during a discussion of the agency’s recently released Energy Technology Perspectives 2014 report.

“What I would like to see is that you redouble your efforts to develop and deploy CCS,” she said.

The IEA estimates that as much as $45 trillion in investment will be needed to meet sustainable clean energy goals by 2050.

The agency maintains that the investment could generate $150 trillion in savings – chiefly in lower fuel consumption – but Van der Hoeven acknowledged the challenge of mounting an aggressive reform of the energy system.

“While the long term cost effectiveness (of low carbon technologies) is demonstrated, current financing approaches do not work in all cases,” she said. “And policy uncertainty has even a greater impact on deployment here than on conventional energy technologies.”

Van der Hoeven pointed to a “renaissance of coal in Europe” due to climbing gas process, cheap coal imports from the US, and the phasing out of nuclear power in some countries.

Strict carbon emissions limits on coal-fired power plants will be needed to encourage development of effective CCS technology development, she said.

The IEA report notes that 40% of energy is used to produce electricity, and that electricity is currently responsible for 40% of carbon emissions – a trend Van der Hoeven deemed “unsustainable” in light of growing global energy demand.

“The longer we wait to transform our energy system, the more expensive it will get,” she said. “And you know, the world isn’t short on options. It’s short on actions.”

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