Södra, the largest forest-owner association in Sweden, is now taking a new step to create added value from its members’ raw material. In partnership with companies Verdane and Equinor, Södra is exploring opportunities to build a complete value chain for bioenergy carbon capture and storage. This unique collaboration, called Njord Carbon, will help to strengthen Södra’s profitability and contribution to the climate.
In 2021, Södra’s positive climate effect equated to 25 percent of Sweden’s reported emissions. The positive climate effect is created by growth in the forests owned by Södra’s 52,000 members’ and by using forest products to replace products and energy with a higher carbon footprint.
Södra is now part of an international partnership with the goal to further strengthen the contribution to the climate, both in Sweden and internationally. Together with Verdane, an equity investment firm, and Equinor, a Norwegian state-owned energy company, Södra is launching a new initiative to explore opportunities for carbon removal, also called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS or bio-CCS).
The aim ahead is to capture CO₂ as soon as it is released from industrial smokestacks by separating the CO₂ from flue gases and condensing it into liquid form. The liquid CO₂ can then be stored safely and permanently, but it is also possible that it can be used circularly in the future to make new products.
Contribution to the climate
The international partnership is called Njord Carbon. Södra, Verdane and Equinor have the combined knowledge and conditions to handle the entire value chain, from CO₂ capture and transportation to storage, and experience from creating growth in new markets.
As part the partnership, the companies will work together to explore an optimal value chain from capture to storage, including a business model and full traceability.
“Södra is constantly working to create additional value from its members’ raw materials and increase our contribution to the climate transition – preferably through new partnerships. We are developing the work of family forestry, making our processes more efficient and reducing emissions. But our development does not stop there. We always want to improve, and carbon capture strengthens our long-term work towards an ever greater positive contribution to the climate, while broadening our base and creating new value from a by-product of our mills,” said Lotta Lyrå, CEO of Södra.
First step towards permanent carbon storage
The partnership is a first step towards more players accelerating their sustainability efforts by deploying bio-CCS systems. Moving forward, Njord Carbon wants to offer sustainable and cost-efficient solutions for carbon removal and establish a negative emissions marketplace.
The project has entered the initiation phase. Södra will now implement feasibility studies and preliminary projects before making a decision to invest in a bio-CCS facility.
“Södra is continuously seeking new opportunities to strengthen its business operations through innovation and development. We are therefore happy to now be working with Verdane and Equinor. Together, we represent the entire value chain – from capture to storage of CO₂. We are working long-term to build a sustainable value chain and hoping to add negative emissions to this process,” said Andreas Hörnfeldt, Södra’s Head of New Business.
Value-chain collaboration behind the initiative
Equity investment firm Verdane is an expert in scaling-up sustainable companies and Norwegian energy company Equinor has in-depth knowledge of storing CO₂ permanently underground. The joint aim of the companies is to team up with more partners to further develop the Njord Carbon initiative.
Bjarne Lie, Managing Partner at Verdane, says, “We believe Njord Carbon will offer a significant reduction in the cost of high quality, permanent engineered carbon removals compared to all other existing alternatives globally. In April, Verdane became the first Private Equity firm to commit to neutralise all future residual scope 3 emissions with permanent engineered carbon removals. Njord Carbon will allow us to purchase such offsets at a very different price point in the future, and we hope the reduced costs will encourage many other businesses to make the same commitment.”
Erik Osmundsen, Partner at Verdane, added, “We believe it is in the interest of all organisations committed to net zero to ensure they use the highest quality carbon removals possible. Together with Södra and Equinor, we’re excited to continue scaling Njord Carbon by bringing more partners on board from across the value chain, including early adopters who want to take a leadership position in sustainability.”
Lisa Rebora, Head of Emerging and Future Business at Equinor, says, “Carbon management and removals are critical elements in transitioning to a net zero world and the BECCS value chain provides a pathway for Equinor to achieve this in the Nordics. We look forward to working together with Verdane and Södra to explore the opportunities for carbon removal in the Nordic market.”