We have several ongoing projects in the world of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage ) and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilisation) technology, under the supervision of the Research Centre of San Donato Milanese and the Renewable Energy and Environmental R&D Centre in Novara. In relation to the technologies, with regards to the capturing stage, we are developing systems that use ionic liquids that are more efficient than conventional amine-based liquids. With regard to storage, we are optimising all stages of the process, from transport to fluid-rock interaction to field monitoring systems, in order to make the technology more efficient and facilitate its large-scale application. At an operational level, we are spearheading the HyNet North West project, which is being developed in the UK to transform one of the country's most energy-intensive industrial clusters around the Liverpool Bay area on the northwest coast into the world's first low-GHG industrial cluster. Actively supported by the UK Government for its vital contribution to achieving zero net emissions by 2050, HyNet North West sees Eni (through Eni UK) as operator for CO₂ transport and storage activities. In Italy, we are planning the CCS Ravenna Hub, a CO₂ storage site off the coast of Ravenna. The conversion of depleted fields in the Adriatic Sea, which will no longer produce natural gas, into exclusive permanent CO₂ storage sites and the re-use of a small part of the existing infrastructure will provide a rapid and concrete solution for reducing emissions in the Italian industrial sector at very competitive prices. Also in Europe, we are a partner in the Sleipner project in Norway, which has already safely stored some 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide since it began operations in 1996. Outside Europe, we are also developing CCS projects in the United Arab Emirates (Gasha) and Libya (Bahr Essalam), and aim to set up others in Egypt and Australia. Overall, we aim to achieve total storage of around 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year (MTPA) in 2030 and a total gross capacity of 30 MTPA, and then increase it to around 35 MTPA in 2040 and around 50 MTPA in 2050. The range of technologies we are developing for the utilization phase is more various. A first line of research relates to the ultra-intensified bio-fixation of CO₂ through the cultivation of microalgae in LED photobioreactors with photosynthesis optimised wavelengths. Another technology involves a process of CO2 mineralisation with natural mineral phases and the use of the products obtained during the making of cement, which we patented in April 2021 and which we are developing with Holcim, with whom we are working on a demonstration plant to test the reduction in carbon footprint made possible by this technology. A third area of research looks at ways to use CO₂ in the production of methanol, an energy vector with huge potential. One larger-scale project in particular also aims to capture CO2 directly on board vehicles.
Capturing CO₂ for permanent storage or reusing it in other production cycles is one of the key ways of reducing its concentrations in the atmosphere and limiting the increase in the average global temperature to within two degrees Celsius, as required by the Paris Agreements on climate change. The CCS and CCU technologies are part of our decarbonization strategy, together with the right mix of renewables and natural gas, energy savings generated by increased efficiency and the protection and conservation of forests. Developing the corresponding plants on an industrial scale also has the advantage of generating a virtuous circle through the principles of the circular economy, with positive effects on overall growth and development.
Eni’s targets in CCS
CO₂ storage target in 2022
CO₂ storage target in 2030
CO₂ storage target in 2040
CO₂ storage target in 2040
The main difficulty facing any method of capturing and reusing CO₂ is the fact that the carbon dioxide molecule is the most stable of the carbon compounds, meaning that separating it from other gases, breaking it down or binding it to any other substance always requires a lot of energy. There is no single solution for doing away with this constraint imposed by thermodynamics, but research has been studying those reaction pathways that consume the lowest possible amounts of energy. With this in mind, we are focusing our efforts on ionic fluids - a proprietary technology that makes it possible to intercept CO₂ but with lower emission and energy consumption levels than conventional amine-based methods. We are simultaneously conducting research alongside the MIT with a view to developing high-efficiency electrochemical capture systems. The chemical reduction of CO₂ to methanol using hydrogen produced by electrolysing water using renewable electricity is another of the challenges we are facing; indeed, methanol produced in this way can be reused to produce energy or used directly as a component of automotive fuel, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the entire process.
How to capture and valorize CO₂
HyNet North West: CCS and low carbon hydrogen
of annual storage potential of CO₂ as of 2025
annual storage potential of CO₂ as of 2030
contribution to UK’s low carbon hydrogen target
of PHASE 1
Thanks to CCS and CCU technologies, CO2 can be transformed from a cost into an opportunity. This is especially true for the energy industry, which has the technical and organisational expertise to implement such large-scale projects efficiently, quickly and safely. Moreover, CCS is the only immediately available option for reducing emissions in hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, steel, chemical and paper mills, etc., where a significant proportion of carbon dioxide emissions are linked to the industrial process and therefore cannot be avoided by, for example, electrification or renewables in general. As far as Italy is concerned, the hard-to-abate sectors contribute to about 20% of total emissions and, to date, there are no viable technological alternatives to reduce their emissions. Another positive aspect of storage is the possibility of reusing depleted gas fields and decommissioned assets, such as Eni UK's Hamilton, North Hamilton and Lennox fields, which will be involved in the HyNet project, or those in the Ravenna offshore area, also owned by Eni. As for HyNet, CCS operations will have an initial capacity of 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year (Mton/a), with the possibility of expanding it to 10 Mton/a by 2030. Emissions will come from companies in the north-west of England and north Wales, and will be captured directly at chimneys and transported to depleted fields. In addition to CCS, a major hydrogen production site will also be built. The project has received direct support from the UK Government and storage operations are scheduled to start in 2025. In October 2021, HynNet was listed as a Track 1 CCUS project in the UK Government's Cluster Sequencing for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage Deployment: Phase 1 tender and this success is particularly important for two reasons: because it allows activities to start up by 2025 and because it enables Eni UK and the Consortium partners to access the Carbon Capture Storage Infrastructure Fund (CCFI), a public fund that provides £1 billion in grants for the implementation of four CO2 capture and storage projects, totalling around 10 million tonnes per year by 2030. Meanwhile, in February 2022 Eni UK announced that it had signed a total of 19 Memoranda of Understanding with companies interested in capturing, transporting and storing its emissions through HyNet North West. Also in 2025, PHASE 1 of the CCS Ravenna Hub project is expected to start.
Whilst they may differ slightly from one another, one thing that all CCS and CCU technologies have in common is their ability to transform a limitation into a resource, creating opportunities for economic growth and environmental sustainability by reducing CO2 emissions. In the Ravenna area, for example, we could offer significant opportunities for the local area and numerous companies. In fact, by integrating onshore production facilities with the nearby offshore CCS project, many companies would be given the opportunity to decarbonize their activities. This would create a zero carbon industrial cluster which, as such, could attract new investment and generate new employment opportunities in a technologically advanced sector.
Generally speaking, what these systems do is capture the greenhouse gas generated by industry and other forms of human activity or, in the future, directly from the atmosphere and introduce it into a new production cycle, that enhances it and adds value. The additional advantage offered by CCU is that it transforms carbon dioxide into a "raw material” that is used in various virtuous processes pertaining to the circular economy. Furthermore, these processes can be used to help produce electricity from renewable sources.
International support for carbon capture, storage and reuse
CCS and CCU projects are also considered key to energy decarbonisation by international organisations such as, among others, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2019, OGCI launched the CCUS KickStarter initiative to help lower costs, demonstrate the positive impact of pro-CCS and CCU policies and attract widespread commercial investment in the field. Today, the CCUS KickStarter has eight international hubs for CCS, one of which is the Ravenna CCS project. In addition, in September 2020, the IEA published the CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions, in which it stated that CCS and CCU will be crucial to achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions and called for more investment in these technologies, which are now considered to be both reliable and safe.
The Ravenna CCS Hub project
The potential of CCS Ravenna hub
initial annual CO₂ storage capacity
successive annual CO₂ storage capacity
total CO₂ storage capacity
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