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Case Study: Three musketeers will help the Dutch industry decarbonize through CCS

Arij van Berkel, Ph.D., Vice President, Research
December 2, 2021

With the announcement of the completion of Aramis in September 2021, the Dutch industry completed its three musketeer approach to decarbonization. The Dutch economy is one of the most carbon-intensive in the EU, with 9.06 tons of CO2 emitted per capita in 2019. The reason is the large petrochemical and steel industry near the coast at the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The Dutch government aims to structurally decarbonize this industry through electrification and the use of (imported) green hydrogen. This will take major investments and several decades. In the meantime, the emissions can be reduced faster by sequestering CO2 in depleted gas fields on the North Sea. To build the infrastructure, three public-private partnerships have been established: Porthos, Athos, and Aramis.

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USE CASE AND BUSINESS IMPACT

Porthos

The Porthos project is the oldest and most advanced of the three projects. It completed a feasibility study in 2018 and started preparations for a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study in 2019. In July 2019, the project obtained a €6.5 million subsidy from the EU CEF fund for the preparatory study (i.e., the FEED study). In February 2021, the results of the FEED study were sufficient to obtain further CEF funding of €102 million to support the overall investment. In June 2021, the project obtained an SDE++ subsidy from the Dutch government up to a maximum of €2 billion. The consortium is currently in the final stages of negotiating the CO2 transport and storage contracts. Depending on the result of those negotiations, the final investment decision will be made early in 2022. The project expects to be operational in 2023.

Athos

The Athos project was started by the port of Amsterdam together with GasunieEBN, and Tata Steel Europe to build a CO2 pipeline in the Amsterdam port area. The pipeline will have a capacity of 1 Mtonnes/y and will connect directly to storage facilities on the North Sea. In September 2021, Tata Steel made a strategic decision to pursue the use of hydrogen in its production as a means of decarbonizing production. As a result, the company decided to no longer invest in CCS and pulled out of the Athos project. This means that the Athos project was terminated as of October 2021.

Aramis

The Porthos project connects to just one field to sequester CO2. This enables a quick start of the project but also limits the capacity in the long term. The same applied to Athos when the project was still being executed. Therefore, TotalEnergiesShellEBN, and Gasunie announced in October 2021 that they will jointly build a CO2 network on the Dutch continental shelf to provide access to multiple storage locations. This project aims to repurpose existing North Sea gas infrastructure that would otherwise be decommissioned. This project is called Aramis, as it aims to complete the three musketeers.

#LUXTAKE

These projects look similar to the U.K. CCS projects, but they have a completely different strategic intent. These three projects have been designed to temporarily extend the life of existing assets and reduce their CO2 emissions at the same time. This buys the industry time to implement structural solutions to become net-zero while allowing the Netherlands to fulfill its reduction obligations under the Paris treaty. Similarly, the projects seek to repurpose some of the assets on the North Sea, which will ease and spread the costs of decommissioning for the industry. Overall, this is an attempt to enable an optimal transition path for the large petrochemical cluster in the west of The Netherlands. It is a temporary retrofit solution while the industry works on more transformational changes. Whether this attempt works depends on the other developments, such as VoltaChem and FLIE. Clients should use the CCS facilities if relevant and pay more attention to the other innovations in the cluster that aim to transform the industry.

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