Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage: An essential technology for facilitating carbon neutrality

The Nordic region has ambitious climate goals and visions that could be achieved using CCUS as a complement to other measures

Nordic Energy Research aims at taking an active part in the green transition by facilitating a joint approach to Nordic challenges, where CCUS is one of the focus areas. Through networking groups, funding research activities and dissemination of information, we facilitate the deployment of CCUS in the Nordic region.  

What is the Nordic take on CCUS?

The Nordic region has ambitious climate goals and visions that could be achieved using CCUS as a complement to other measures. There is a potential for a CCS chain from capture to storage in the Nordic and North Sea regions involving major infrastructure and storage components. Also, the Nordic region, in particular Sweden and Finland, have a high share of solid biomass fuels in the total energy consumption. This suggests that capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion of biomass in bio-CCS could be an effective and cost-efficient option to achieve carbon negative solutions.

Today, there are only a few CCUS projects in operation. Even though the technology has been around since the 1980’s, costs are still high and further maturing of the technologies is necessary for large-scale deployment.

Figure 1. CCUS involve the capture of CO2 from fuel combustion or industrial processes, the transport of the captured CO2, and either utilisation as carbon resource in biofuels or other products, or permanent storage in geological formations. (Illustration: The Bellona Foundation / Negative CO2)

The Nordic countries have different starting points – geologically, politically, and economically. In Sweden and Finland, we find the largest industrial emission-sources of CO2, but also many legal hindrances, while in Norway we find the largest and most suitable storage units. Norway also has the advantage of considerable geological competence, as a result of decades of oil and natural gas recovery. There are also geological opportunities for CO2-storage in Denmark, but deployment has been slowed down by the lack of acceptance from the local community. Meanwhile, Iceland is making progress with a CCUS technique turning CO2 into minerals.

The nature of CCUS technology, with the different elements (capture, transport, storage, utilisation), require multidisciplinary and transnational collaboration. Thus, there is a lot to gain from Nordic collaboration on CCUS, regardless of political, technological, or legal issues. This is acknowledged by the Nordic Prime Ministers, who in January 2019 declared that they would intensify their cooperation in order to catalyse the scaling up of Nordic sustainable solutions.

Nordic Energy Research and CCUS

Current activities
Nordic Energy Research is taking part in several activities to promote CCUS-research and further its deployment in the Nordic region.

  • Negative CO2 – The Nordic Energy Research Flagship project Negative CO2 combines technologies and research that will help reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere effectively and at a low cost. The project focus at bio-CCS with a special aim of taking the CO2 capturing-technology Chemical Looping Combustion to the next level in its development by upscaling it to a semi-commercial scale.
  • Accelerating CCS Technologies (ACT) – Together with the collaboration-initiative ACT, Nordic Energy Research aims at facilitating the emergence of CCUS via transnational funding. The projects funded aspire to accelerate and mature CCUS technology application through targeted innovation and research activities. Nordic Energy Research is funding various types of projects – e.g. sociological or economical – as long as at least two Nordic partners are participating. Link to announcement.
  • The Networking Group on CCUS (NGCCUS) – NGCCUS was established in 2019 by the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Energy Policies and consists of representatives from the Nordic and Baltic countries’ authorities and ministries. The group mainly focuses on cooperation within CCUS policy development and works as a platform for discussing CCUS policy and strategy issues. The group also monitors the CCUS-development in the Nordic-Baltic countries and acts as an adviser for the arrangement of the Baltic Carbon Forum. Nordic Energy Research is a part of the group and assists in the work of the secretariat.
  • Nordic or Nordic-Baltic PhD and Researcher Mobility Programme – Nordic Energy Research is funding a “CCU-Nordic network”. The project aims at creating a strong academic network between four leading Nordic research groups by strengthening the interdisciplinary mobility for training of highly qualified researchers and create the basis for a strong CCU-Nordic network.

Past activities
Nordic research collaboration on CCS in the Nordic region was done by the Nordic CCS Competence Center (NordiCCS)in which Nordic Energy Research also participated. NordiCCS conducted several studies on CCS in the Nordic countries between 2011–2015 and involved several Nordic research centres as well as representatives from the industrial sector. Among other things, the collaboration resulted in a tool that can be used to evaluate and rank potential storage units. With the tool, it was concluded that the total theoretical storage capacity of CO2 within the territories of Sweden, Denmark and Norway are up to 120.000 million tons. As a comparison, Sweden’s industrial sector emits app. 19 million tons every year. NordiCCS makes a strong case for collaboration on CCUS in the Nordic region, to facilitate a joint approach to Nordic challenges. 

The jury of the Nordic Energy Challenge 2020

To select the best of these proposals we assembled a jury of highly qualified representatives from Nordic Energy Research and the Nordic energy community, who assessed the submitted proposals and…

To select the best of these proposals we assembled a jury of highly qualified representatives from Nordic Energy Research and the Nordic energy community, who assessed the submitted proposals and chose the most relevant, complete, comprehensive and innovative contributions.

Jury Members

  • Klaus Skytte, Chair of the jury and CEO at Nordic Energy Research.
  • Rune Volla, Director for the department of energy research at the Research Council of Norway and board member of Nordic Energy Research.
  • Marielle Lahti, Senior advisor at the Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate and previously Director Smart Grids and Electricity at Swedish Smart Grid Forum.
  • Peter Lund, Professor in Advanced Energy Systems at Aalto University in Finland and Advisor at the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP).
  • Birte Holst Jørgensen, Senior researcher at DTU Wind Energy and previously CEO at Nordic Energy Research.

The jury has selected the three finalists of Nordic Energy Challenge 2020

In non-priority order – the finalists are:

  1. Simon Vilms Pedersen from University of Southern Denmark (SDU) with the proposal:
    On the Road to Nordic Decarbonization 2050
  2. Claire Bergaentzlé, Philipp Andreas Gunkel and Daniel Møller Sneum from Denmark’s Technical University (DTU) with the proposal:
    A sustainable and integrated Nordic region
  3. Marianne Zeyringer from University of Oslo (UiO) with the proposal:
    Unlocking the renewable energy potential in the Nordics

The jury’s selection of the finalists is based on the guiding principles set out in the call for submissions and the listed objectives and requirements.

Nordic Green Growth Research and Innovation

The Nordic countries have ambitious climate goals towards 2050. These projects aim to promote green economic growth, sustainability and competitiveness

The Nordic countries have committed themselves to ambitious climate goals towards 2050 in terms of developing energy efficient and low-carbon societies. To achieve these goals, we need extensive green transitions in all areas of the Nordic societies and economies. We need to promote green economic growth, sustainability and competitiveness both in the public and private sector.

The Nordic countries are home to excellent research and consistently rank among the best when it comes to innovation. This makes the region well-positioned to develop innovative solutions and policy advice to meet the opportunities and challenges of reaching the Nordic climate goals.

NordForskNordic Innovation and Nordic Energy Research, the main financiers of cooperative research and innovation in the Nordic countries, have therefore together launched this research and innovation programme. The call received tremendous interest with 113 applications in total.

Due to the wide scope of the call, the reviewers have considered applications covering a very wide range: Solar energy, wind energy, bio-refining, efficient use of resources from food production, mining, low-carbon approaches to metallurgy, integrated and lean production methods, innovative ways to use biomass resources both for materials and societal changes to enable green growth and competitiveness in Nordic countries to name a few. We were unfortunately only able to support a fraction of all these high-quality projects.

The total budget for the programme is 78 MNOK.

See summaries of the six funded projects below.

High-value Products from Lignin

Using lignin as an alternate renewable material source.

Lignin is a side stream component that is available in large quantities from industrial wood refining processes. The objective of the project is to develop technologies to use lignin as an alternative renewable material source in selected high value applications, optimally aiming at reduced production costs while simultaneously improved material properties.

Various types of lignins will be studied as raw materials. In addition to chemical modifications, physical methods will be developed and applied to induce desired properties, such as surface superhydrophobicity. Three potential end uses are envisaged:

Multifunctional metal coatings: Lignin-containing metal coatings aim at protection against biofouling, water frictional resistance, corrosion and icing in demanding environments, such as marine applications.

Ultra-pure biogas: Regenerable adsorbent materials with high adsorption capacity and efficiency based on metal-lignin composites will enable the use of biogas e.g. for fuel cell power plants that have strict purity requirements.

Functional films: Biomedical applications require materials with anti-microbial, cell friendly, biodegradable and biocompatible properties that can be produced in film form. Similar materials can be used for edible food packages. Lignin will be studied as a functional component in such applications.

Despite of this wide range of studied applications, many of the them have similar material property requirements and thus a generic lignin modification study will be performed that serves the whole project.

Project partners:

  • Project lead: Tarja Tamminen, VTT, Finland
  • Orlando Rojas, Aalto University, Finland
  • Anders Feilberg Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Gunnar Henriksson, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

New Nordic Ways to Green Growth (NOWAGG)

Strengthening the foundation for technological green growth innovation policy.

How to upscale and finance innovative low-carbon and resource-efficient technologies is essential to green growth. Nordic countries are early adopters of novel environmental technologies, and as such serving as a unique laboratory.

This research project will improve the basic understanding needed for policy-making related to promote technological green growth innovations. New types of cooperation between private and public actors could be a key enabler. The project will aim to identify key bottlenecks and options for improvement in existing governance arrangements. The availability of venture capital is essential for investments in new technologies. Reducing risk will be illustrated by experiences from a range of case studies of recent Nordic environmental technologies.

Green growth may offer an opportunity for otherwise disadvantaged regions to revitalise their trades and industries by switching to more low-carbon bio-based resources, creating a potential for offering novel, high-value commodities.

The output from this project can be used in both the Nordic countries and globally to promote green growth. Experiences from Nordic countries are much needed for a timely de-carbonisation internationally.

Project partners:

  • Project lead: Mikael Skou Andersen, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Annica Kronsell, Lund University, Sweden
  • Jon Birger Skjærseth, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway
  • Patrick Søderholm, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
  • Tuula Teräväinen-Litardo, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Where Does the Green Economy Grow? The Geography of Nordic Sustainability Transitions

Investigating the conditions for green growth.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to greening the growth path of an economy as this depends on place-based policy and institutional settings, level of development, resource endowments and particular environmental pressure points. This research proposal addresses the place-based, context-dependent nature of the shift to green growth in the Nordic countries by asking the question: where does the green economy grow? In addressing this question, we foreground the importance of innovation, new industry formation, and radical industry transformation.

The project is based on a mixed methods approach. Quantitative techniques will be applied to analyse the importance of human capital and technological specialisation for the greening of the economy. Qualitative case studies of Nordic regions will focus on the role of institutions and account for the diversity in Nordic regional green pathways.

Participating regions will benefit from a thorough analysis of current green growth processes and the opportunities for further greening. The project in particular seeks to engage pioneering green growth regions in the case study analysis, and a full work package in the project will be focusing on the possibilities for policy-learning between participating regions. An important element here will be to distinguish between those successful practices that can be transferred between regions, and those which are context dependent.

Project partners:

  • Project lead: Teis Hansen, Lund University, Sweden
  • Christian R. Østergaard Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Markku Sotarauta, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Antje Klitkou, NIFU, Norway
  • Håkon Finne, SINTEF, Norway
  • Anne Nygaard Tanner, Lund University, Sweden

CIRCit – Circular Economy Integration in the Nordic Industry for Enhanced Sustainability and Competitiveness

Exploring the Nordic circular economy potential.

Circular economy (CE) is a promising approach towards maximising value by increasing resource productivity, enhancing energy efficiency, lowering resource consumption and decreasing waste. By transitioning to CE, Nordic industry as a whole can pave the way for modern sustainability thinking and establish itself as benchmark in the field, whilst also enhancing its position in the highly competitive international market.

The CIRCit research project will develop science-based tools and approaches, in close collaboration with companies, with the aim of enabling Nordic industry to:

  1. Understand the overall potential for CE implementation.
  2. Investigate and conceptualise circular business models.
  3. Develop circular products, services and solutions, based on multiple life cycles and energy efficiency.
  4. Support the operation of circular products, services and solutions by introducing intelligent assets.
  5. Close the loop of materials through remanufacturing, recycling and reuse.

The tools and approaches developed in CIRCit will be broadly disseminated within the Nordic industry to maximise impact and uptake. CIRCit will contribute to increased efficiency of production and a more effective use of natural resources and energy, leading to increased competitiveness, growth and job creation.

Project partners:

  • Project lead: Tim C. McAloone, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) Denmark
  • Anna-Karin Jörnbrink, Swerea, Sweden
  • Pekka Abrahamson, NTNU, Norway
  • Sigurdur Kridtjansdottir, Innovation Center Iceland, Iceland
  • Carina Wiik, Federation of Technology Industries in Finland, Finland


Developing a way to use feather as an alternative source of feed.

The challenge addressed by the project is the implementation of improved circular bioeconomy in the global chicken industry. With an increasing world population and mean income, there is a growing demand for proteins from meat. Alternative sources for feed ingredients are needed, preferably derived from by-products from local sources using mild processing conditions. Feather waste, a globally abundant by-product-derived nutritional protein-rich feed source, is an excellent choice.

The final goal of Feather2Feed is to present a market ready technology, where a colourless feather hydrolysate of high digestibility and nutritional value, is ready for industrial scale production at the end of the project period. This is achieved by using a new and radical combination of technologies.

The project will represent a stellar example of collaboration between Nordic SMEs and a state/private research institution, with representation from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Since the technology in question has applications both in the Nordic countries and globally, given the size of the poultry industry and potential access to other protein rich side streams, the project will be a showcase of innovative Nordic technology solving a global waste problem and satisfying a need for improved protein rich animal feeds.

The added value on a practical basis will be the creation of employment and growth opportunities in the Nordic region related to the roll-out of the technology, but also across the globe as most growth opportunities will be export orientated.

Project leader:

  • Nofima, Norway

Low Temperature Plasma for Chemical Production

A new way to extract high-value chemicals from lignin.

The project will use low temperature plasma to utilise valuable chemicals from low value bio-based feeds. Lignin is a waste material from wood processes when cellulose and hemicellulose have been extracted. Lignin is a very large molecule that contains interesting chemical structures and aromatics.

The project consortium aims to develop a process, based on low temperature plasma that will be able to decompose lignin into valuable chemicals, which can enable a production of bio-based chemicals at a price level that is comparable to today’s cost. The consortium will also focus on utilising possible waste from this process to produce synthesis gas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) which also is a valuable feedstock for production of chemicals, and to examine if the technology can be used on black liquor.

The application is focusing on using a resource that is present in large quantities in the Nordic countries. If successful, the project may be able to increase the value string for companies operating in this region – forestry, paper mills, and chemical companies that will be able to produce competitive bio-based chemicals. The technologies involving bio-based chemicals have a strong foundation in these countries being in the forefront of the development of bio technologies replacing traditional feedstocks typically based on crude oil and other fossil fuels.

There is also a large export potential as lignin and bio-based chemicals is not solely related to the Nordic countries. There is a demand for these chemicals in other parts of the world and the demand is increasing as new technologies make it possible to develop alternative production routes.

Project partners:

  • University of Uppsala, Sweden
  • Haldor Topsøe, Denmark
  • Perstrop AB, Sweden
  • N2 Applied, Norway

Sustainable Energy Systems 2050

Sustainable Energy Systems 2050 is the seventh edition of Nordic Energy Research’s main research funding programme, spanning from 2011 to 2014

“While decarbonizing electricity is still a central challenge for much of the world, the Nordic case offers insight into how a clean electricity system can be achieved and how it can facilitate decarbonization of other sectors.” – SES 2050 Report

The aim of the programme is to develop new knowledge and solutions, supporting the transition to a sustainable energy system in 2050.



Energy & Transport Programme

Transport is a critical and pressing challenge in the decarbonisation of our energy systems, and an area with significant potential for innovation and green growth. The Nordic region has a…

Transport is a critical and pressing challenge in the decarbonisation of our energy systems, and an area with significant potential for innovation and green growth. The Nordic region has a vision of becoming the leading European region for the development, testing and use of more sustainable transportation systems. The Energy & Transport programme is central to this vision. The Energy & Transport programme is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, and steered by a Board representing the national energy and transport authorities of the Nordic countries.


Associated projects

Testing the driving range of electrical vehicles

The aim of this project is to improve knowledge on the range of electric vehicles operating  in Nordic countries.  Assessing range and performance of electric vehicles in the challenging Nordic driving conditions will help produce the complete picture of energy use for electric vehicles, and therefore make electric vehicles a more reliable choice for Nordic drivers

Nordic Energy Research Programme (2007-2010)

Nordic Energy Research’s main research programme for 2007-2010  had  a total budget of 150 million NOK, with 86 million NOK provided by Nordic Energy Research. The program consisted of 16…

Nordic Energy Research’s main research programme for 2007-2010  had  a total budget of 150 million NOK, with 86 million NOK provided by Nordic Energy Research. The program consisted of 16 high quality cooperative projects. The thematic areas of the program were climate and energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy, hydrogen technology and energy markets.

Nordic Energy Research launches new large research programmes every fourth year. From 2011 to 2014 our main research programme is “Sustainable Energy Systems 2050”  focusing on one overall theme.

Nordic Research and Innovation Area for Energy Programme (2007-2009)

In 2007 Nordic Energy Research commissioned a series of policy studies looking to map and analyse the Nordic Research and Innovation Area (NORIA) within energy, and produce recommendations as to…

In 2007 Nordic Energy Research commissioned a series of policy studies looking to map and analyse the Nordic Research and Innovation Area (NORIA) within energy, and produce recommendations as to how it can be improved.

Hydrogen and Fuel-Cell Research Network (2004-2008)

Hydrogen and fuel cell technology could play a critical role in a more sustainable transport system. The European Commission financed the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell European Research Area Network (ERA-Net)…

Hydrogen and fuel cell technology could play a critical role in a more sustainable transport system. The European Commission financed the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell European Research Area Network (ERA-Net) from 2004 to 2008. 19 different countries and regions participated in the Network, giving participating researchers a large pool of resources. Nordic Energy Research assisted in operating the programme on behalf of the participating countries and the European Union.

Sign up for our newsletter