OSLO, Norway (AP) - A Norwegian energy company applied for permission Friday to build a groundbreaking natural gas power plant that an environmental group said would be the world's first to use new technology to capture climate-damaging emissions.
Skagerrak Energi AS said the plant would trap emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which will then be sent to Norway's offshore oil fields by pipeline and injected into reservoirs to boost production by increasing pressure.
The plant could supply energy to 400,000 households.
Norwegian activist group Zero, which campaigns to cut greenhouse gas emissions, called the move ''historic.''
''This is the first full-scale natural gas power plant with C02 capturing in the world to seek a permit,'' said Zero's leader, Einar Haandlykken.
Norway is the world's third largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. The nation's offshore fields also produce vast amounts of natural gas, nearly all of which is exported.
The northern country of 4.6 million people also produces its electricity with clean hydroelectric plants, but increasing demand has forced it to regularly import electrical power, often from polluting coal-fired plants or nuclear generators banned in Norway.
Use of natural gas to produce electricity has triggered heated debates in Norway, with opponents saying such plants would sharply increase emissions of climate-damaging gasses.
In a news release, Skagerrak Energi said its design for the facility, which would be Norway's largest natural gas power plant, eliminates that problem.
''We have developed significant expertise in the environmentally friendly handling of CO2,'' the group's managing director, Hans August Hanssen, said.
The plant, expected to cost up to $950 million, is to be built by 2010 in an industrialized area of southern Norway's Telemark province.
Hanssen said other industries in the region would also be able to channel their emissions through the plant's system, further reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Haandlykken, of Zero, said that ultimately, the project could reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by all of Norway's motor vehicles together.
Oil companies Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, have announced similar plans but Haandlykken said Skagerrak Energi was several years ahead in the process of planning and seeking permits.