London April 2017 Biannual: Update on Energy Security & Innovation Observing System (ESIOS)

John Midgley, technical manager at UK Geoscience Observatory for the Energy Security & Innovation Observing System (ESIOS), presented on the project updates, scientific overview, types of infrastructure and availability of researcher funding.

The earth observatories are designed to further our understanding of the UK subsurface by providing an accessible subsurface environment for world class research. This system will generate a set of baseline data in high detail, including shallow and deep geology, hydrogeological and near surface processes, and environmental and atmospheric flux. To do this, a 20-year research programme was designed to underpin sustainable development of subsurface energy technologies. The investment from the government for the two geological research facilities is £31m to make a step change in the UK’s energy technology capability over the next two decades. The department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released funding on April 2017. The funding would be available through the research councils such as NERC, over the next 20 years.

The preferred geological locations for this purpose would be in Scotland to provide a geothermal mine workings demonstrator site and the other location is a deep and shallow borehole array located within Cheshire to provide an evidence base for the complete range of energy technologies. The scientific challenges include the fluid flow through the rock, the chemical reactions between the fluids and minerals, mechanical properties of the rock, application of the fluid chemistry, stress change due to the injection or production and mobilising fluids, the responce of subsurface to the perturbations caused by fluid flow and mechanical changes and the links between the deep subsurface, shallow subsurface and surface. The research areas also would be imaging complex, heterogeneous and evolving rock mass, multiphase flow in heterogeneous media, mechanical and biogeochemical responses to the artificial perturbations.

ESIOS is a capital project and the facilities would be operated by BGC. The strategic science conducted using ESIOS facilities can be generate through the NERC strategic research funding process. ESIOS will provide the experimental infrastructures for independent research including commissioning new subsurface wells, monitoring, sampling and data handling.