A high court in the Netherlands has given the construction of a significant carbon capture project in the Rotterdam port area the green light, despite objections from environmental activists. The project – called Porthos – is anticipated to become Europe’s biggest carbon capture and storage site.
Once operational, it has been estimated that the facility will reduce the Netherland’s yearly CO2 emissions by approximately 2% for a period of 15 years, starting in 2026. The facility will capture CO2 emitted by refineries and chemical plants operated by Shell, Exxon Mobil, Air Liquide and Air Products. The CO2 will then be transported and stored in empty gas fields under the North Sea.
Prior to getting the go ahead, a preliminary ruling in November 2022 found that the project may not meet European environmental guidelines, and could be stopped as a result. Environmental activists argued that nitrogen oxide emissions caused by the construction of Porthos would be harmful for nearby nature reserves – a violation of European law. The government commissioned research into the effects of construction on the nature reserves, and found that it would only be temporary and limited.
A final investment decision is expected in the next few weeks, with Porthos developers –including Rotterdam port authorities and Gasunie – hoping to start construction of the facility in early 2024.