Norway and coal

From Global Energy Monitor

Norway is a coal exporter with production having increased since the opening in 2001 of the Svea Norda mine. The two mines are on Spitsbergen, the main island in the dependency of Svalbard to the north of the Norwegian mainland. The mines are operated by Store Norske Spitsbergen Grubekompani AS, a wholly owned subsidiary of state-owned Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani AS. The mines, which produce 2.9 million tonnes of coal equivalent, employ only 290 people.[1]

Mine No. 7 was opened in 1975 and produces 48 000 tonnes of coal equivalent and that it is scheduled to shut down in 2010. Approximately half of the mine's production is used in the country's only coal-fired power station on Spitsbergen which is a combined heat and power plant. The Svea Nord mine is expected to operate for up to 25 years.[1]

The International Energy Agency notes that coal from the Svea Nord mine "is exported to international markets, with Denmark, Germany, Portugal and the UK being major customers for Norwegian coal." Coal for the domestic us, it states, "is usually imported from the international coal market, with Poland, Russia, the UK and Germany being major suppliers. Coal is primarily used in the iron and metal industry in Norway, and these industries require a year-round supply of coal, which cannot be guaranteed from Spitsbergen owing to pack ice blocking the sea export route for most of the year."[1]

Existing Coal-Fired Power Station

Longyear power station is Norway's only coal-fired power station.

Carbon capture and storage

CCS plant costing nine times the original estimate

In September 2010, it was reported that building a carbon capture and storage (CCS) test centre at the Statoil-operated Mongstad refinery in Norway will cost nearly nine times as much as planned. The budget for the CCS facility, considered by the International Energy Agency as a key technology to fight climate change, has risen to 6 billion crowns ($1.02 billion) from 700 million estimated in 2006, according to Dagens Naeringsliv. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg sees the plant as key for UN climate negotiations: "If we don't have CCS, it will be very difficult to achieve big cuts in carbon emissions. That's why we must believe in CCS even though it is proving more difficult, or more expensive, than people thought a few years ago."[2]

The Mongstad project was initially seen as one of the first coal plants to start full-scale CCS operation, but has been plagued by setbacks. It is also a prestige project for Stoltenberg, who once said CCS would be Norway's equivalent of the U.S. Apollo project of the 1960s that put astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Operator Statoil has a 20 percent share in the Mongstad test centre, Royal Dutch Shell has 2.44 percent, South Africa's Sasol has 2.44 percent, while the Norwegian state holds 75.12 percent.[2]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 International Energy Agency, "Energy Policies of IEA Countries - Norway", International Energy Agency, 2005.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gwladys Fouche, "Costs soar for Norway Mongstad CCS centre-paper" Reuters, Sep. 30, 2010.

Related articles

Europe and coal

External Articles

Background information

  • International Energy Agency, "Coal in Norway in 2005", International Energy Agency website, accessed July 2008.
  • International Energy Agency, "Norway", International Energy Agency website, accessed July 2008.
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Norway 1994-2005
  • European Environment Agency, European Pollutant Emission Register. (This has a list of power stations and their current emissions).

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