What do we need to know to safely store CO2 beneath our shelf seas?
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The UK Government has committed to reach Net Zero by 2050. Carbon capture and storage will play a critical role in delivering the UK’s Net Zero Strategy, drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere in the first place. One of the primary routes for long-term storage of this captured CO2 is in deep geological sites within the UK’s continental shelf, such as saline aquifers or depleted oil fields.
The academic team will work with OceanMind, BP, Ikon, Rockfield, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, the North Sea Transition Authority and the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero. This sprint is also engaged with similar activities in other North Sea bordering countries. Collectively, these collaborations will develop methodologies to ensure that the storage of CO2 in offshore geologic reservoirs is conducted in a practical and safe manner.
This Sprint will build a decision-making framework for the environmental impact assessment of proposed sites for sub-sea CO2 storage in offshore reservoirs. This will assess and reduce the tension between CO2 storage capacity and the risk of CO2 leakage, or additional carbon loss through disruption of carbon currently stored in the marine ecosystem.
In March 2023 the UK announced its carbon budget delivery plan which detailed an ambition to deploy at least 5 Mtpa of engineered greenhouse gas removals, such as carbon capture and storage, by 2030, with analysis suggesting 30 Mtpa removals are required by 2037. The ‘Powering Up Britain’ strategy released on the same day also made a significant commitment to carbon capture and storage – eight projects across two clusters – making a start on their Spring Budget 2023 allocation of £20 billion in funding for early deployment of carbon capture and storage. Other North Sea countries like Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark are on similar trajectories.
As these early-stage carbon capture projects ramp up, it is vital to assess the impact and safety of potential locations. This will ensure the most effective containment sites are selected and that the storage sites are appropriately monitored and managed.