Carbon-capture technology has been deployed for the first time as part of a waste incinerator in Norway’s capital Oslo.
The experiment at the Klemetsrud incinerator will remove climate-warming carbon dioxide from fumes created by burning industrial and household waste. If successful, the technology could represent a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions if deployed on a larger scale.
"I hope Oslo can show other cities that it's possible," said the Mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, at an opening ceremony.
So far, carbon capture and storage technology has been experimented with in some fossil-fuel-fired power plants, but development has been hindered by high cost.
The Klemetsrud waste-to-energy incinerator, which generates heat to warm buildings in the city, produces 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year - about 0.6 per cent of Norway's man-made emissions.
The experimental carbon capture and storage removal system consists of five containers with a series of pipes and filters through which the exhaust gas is fed. It captures carbon dioxide at a rate of about 2,000 tonnes a year.
The experiment will run until the end of April. If the results are positive, a full-scale system could be built by 2020. Operators of the system say the carbon dioxide captured could be shipped to the North Sea and used for enhanced oil and gas recovery.
"We see potential in this market across the world," said Valborg Lundegaard, head of Aker Solutions' engineering business, which runs the test.
The operators have admitted that at the current price of carbon credits, the technology is nowhere near cost-effective. However, they claim that as the incinerator burns largely organic waste from food and wood, it actually removes CO2 from the natural cycle and not only that industrially produced.
"It won't be possible to achieve goals set in the Paris agreement without wide use of negative emissions," said Frederic Hauge, head of environmental group Bellona.
Development of new technologies capable of offsetting the devastating effects of rising temperatures globally was also in the heart of the UN climate talks in Paris in December.
Earlier this week, climate scientists confirmed that 2015 was by far the warmest year on record – another extremely hot year in a string that started at the beginning of the 21st century. There is no doubt, the scientists said, that the situation is getting worse and is caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite its potential, carbon capture and storage is still on the fringe. A 2015 report by the Australia-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute said there are just 15 big CCS projects in operation worldwide, including a coal-fired power plant run by Canada's Saskatchewan Power.