Emissions tech firm: US is where the action is

A US coal-burning plant.
Michael Williamson | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Some technology designed to curtail carbon emissions is getting a better reception from buyers in the United States than it does in Europe, according to one firm active in the sector.

Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), a Norwegian firm that tests carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, has found the U.S. a more welcoming place for its services than Europe, which is recovering from a debt crisis and recession.

Company executives told CNBC in an interview that the U.S. shale boom has made it easier to sell carbon emissions reduction technology. As part of its multipronged energy strategy, the Obama administration last year paved the way for the increased use of the technology, which traps carbon from power plants and injects it underground.

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"The fracking revolution in the U.S., if anything, has generated more interest" in carbon emissions capture, said Olav Falk-Pedersen, TCM's business development manager. He said a number of U.S. and Canadian companies were interested.

"In general, CCS has suffered a setback in Europe," Falk-Pedersen said.

Howard Herzog, a senior research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative and an expert on the technology, said that the U.S. is friendlier to it than Europe is because it's more acclimated to drilling activities in general.

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The U.S. "is more used to oil and gas exploration, and (the) technology is similar to that, Herzog told CNBC. "In parts of Europe, they just don't like drilling."

TCM is majority-owned by the Norwegian government but backed by Statoil and Shell. The company operates two carbon dioxide capture facilities and is actively testing solvents to use with gas-fired plants.

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For years, Europe has led in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, plowing money into renewable energy and adopting strict carbon dioxide emission targets. In the wake of Europe's recession, however, policymakers have tempered their ambitions. The European Commission is now wrangling over whether to impose carbon emissions and renewable energy targets by 2035.

—By CNBC's Javier David.