In a recent webinar held by The European Energy Research Alliance's Joint Programme on Carbon Capture and Storage (EERA CCS), Jonathan Pearce and Dr Jim White delved into the future questions and research topics for CO2 storage. The webinar aimed to dismiss the notion that the ongoing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects negate the need for further research.
Jonathan Pearce, who initiated the conversation, emphasized that there remain both challenges and innovation opportunities in the development and deployment of CO2 storage. He identified several issues, such as the interaction between individual CO2 storage projects within one connected aquifer and the challenges associated with injecting CO2 into depleted gas fields. The rapidly expanding offshore wind turbine capacity in the UK, which often sits directly over future CO2 storage sites, was also highlighted as a potential limiting factor for storage site access and monitoring. Jonathan insisted on the continual need for research, despite many years of R&D. The webinar aimed to discuss these research gaps, provide an understanding of storage processes, and gather input for future research priorities.
Figure 1 Jim White's introductory slide from the EERA CCS webinar
Jim White followed Jonathan, presenting insights from a UK Natural Environment Research Council funded project looking at the potential for developing a UK CO2 storage research facility. Jim emphasized that while the necessity of CO2 storage technologies for climate change mitigation is well established, research is still vital for improving efficiency and experience in developing CO2 storage projects at the national and multinational level.
Figure 2 Jim White's slide detailing the framework of the consultation process.
He shared the broad and overarching research requirements gathered from stakeholders, covering fundamental geological processes, operational challenges, new technologies, cost-effectiveness, and even post-closure procedures. The consultation process to understand these requirements involved a bottom-up approach, with a wide, cross-disciplinary focus, and involved expert consultees as well as an online questionnaire distributed to a broader audience.
Jim highlighted that the overwhelming majority of responses were positive, indicating a clear need for dedicated research infrastructure for CO2 storage. The research, according to respondents, should be transferable, scalable, and able to address questions not likely to be addressed at industrial facilities. The consultation process also included workshops to help define research priorities and necessary infrastructure for future CO2 storage research.
In one of the slides shown during the webinar, Jim pointed out some key reoccurring themes based on the responses gathered for the science case:
• Requirements for characterisation and appraisal.
• Performance of injector well.
• Flow assurance and impact of source reliability.
• Trapping and the optimisation of pore space.
• Cost effective monitoring, and verification of techniques.
• Making measurements in places where commercial projects will not.
• Degradation of the delivery infrastructure.
• Data and informatic requirements.
• Pushing towards breaking point.
• Building regulator confidence.
• Close and post closure requirements.
The work presented by Jonathan, Jim and their project team serves as a reminder that despite significant advancements in CCS, there's still a journey ahead in the research and development of CO2 storage technologies. The ongoing and future research will play a pivotal role in ensuring these technologies are efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally safe, as the world continues to fight the battle against climate change.