The mega-project to store CO2 from industry in the port of Rotterdam in an empty gas field under the North Sea has come a step closer.

The companies involved have been awarded subsidies that can amount to more than 2 billion euros, a Shell spokesperson confirms on Sunday after a report by the

NOS

.

Shell, with the refinery in Pernis, is the largest participant in the Porthos project.

ExxonMobil, Air Liquide and Air Products are also participating.

With the underground CO2 storage, some 20 kilometers off the coast, the companies want to prevent the greenhouse gas from ending up in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

This technique is called carbon capture and storage (CCS).

According to Shell, the granting of the subsidy has "taken a crucial bump".

The next important step is to obtain the necessary permits.

"If we receive it early next year, the shovel can go into the ground," said the spokesman for the oil and gas company.

The plan is that CO2 will actually be stored from 2024.

Grant amount not yet fully completed

The final subsidy amount has not yet been determined.

The government only contributes the part that is unprofitable for companies.

Normally they have to pay money to be able to emit CO2.

Currently, the price for these so-called emission allowances, which are tradable in the EU, is approximately 50 euros per tonne.

Storing CO2 in the ground is estimated to cost around 80 euros per ton.

That is more expensive than letting it go up in the air.

The government makes up the difference and thus ensures that the technology is profitable.

If the price of emission rights increases further, which is expected, the difference will become smaller and smaller.

"Ultimately, much less will be paid out," said Shell.

Greenpeace speaks of a 'sham solution'

CO2 storage also has its detractors.

Environmental organization Greenpeace considers it "a bogus solution" to the climate crisis and previously called Porthos a "megalomaniac, expensive and risky project".

Friends of the Earth Netherlands is also not a fan of CCS, but that organization is not opposed to the technology in principle and believes that in some sectors it could be "a bridging option".

The subsidy comes from the so-called SDE ++ scheme of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

This scheme is fully called Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production and Climate Transition.

Money from this pot is also used to subsidize wind farms, for example.