August 16, 2023 [NL Times]- The Porthos CO2 storage project can continue. The Council of State ruled that the nitrogen released during construction will have no significant influence on nearby nature. The permits issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate are, therefore, in order.
With the Porthos project, the industry in the Rotterdam region wants to capture and store 37 megatons of CO2 in empty gas fields in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
But environmental organization MOB opposed the permits issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate for the construction in court because the construction would release nitrogen that can harm nature. MOB also argued that the Dutch government helps fossil companies too much in cleaning up their mess with the associated subsidies of over 2 billion euros.
The interests of the industry in the Rijnmond region are significant. Porthos, set up by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Energie Beheer Nederland, and Gasunie, says it can absorb 10 percent of the CO2 emissions of the Rotterdam industry every year. Oil companies Shell and ExxonMobil, among others, want to use it.
Porthos already had an ecological assessment made, showing that a total of 160 tons of nitrogen will be released during construction. “Comparable to the amount that one diesel car emits when driving 200,000 kilometers,” said a spokesperson.
But MOB fears damage to nature in dune areas around Rotterdam. Chairman Johan Vollenbroek also believes that the capture and storage of greenhouse gases slow down the transition to cleaner energy. “It extends the life of fossil fuels,” he said. “The Netherlands continues to subsidize fossil fuel. This amounts to 2.1 billion euros. We think that is absurd.”
A Porthos spokesperson stressed that society is still so dependent on fossil fuels that it will be impossible to limit global warming to 2 degrees without storing CO2. “Society needs time to become more sustainable. You really have to see this as an interim solution.”
MOB already won the first ruling in this case in November. In an interim ruling, the Council of State scrapped the exemption for the construction phase of the project, which stipulated that the temporary nitrogen effects did not have to be assessed. The judgment also affected many other construction projects.
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