Reporting from the CO2GeoNet Open Forum, 2014

Written by Jonathan Pearce, Leader of the CCS Team Storage at the British Geological Survey and coordinator of the storage subprogramme for CCS Joint Programme of the European Energy Research Alliance.

With thanks to Ceri Vincent and Mike Stephenson

The annual CO2GeoNet Open Forum has become a regular fixture on the carbon storage agenda in recent years. The reasons are twofold: firstly, it provides a convenient opportunity to obtain a comprehensive overview of current European research on CO2 storage and secondly, it is hosted by OGS on the island of San Servolo, a short ferry ride from Venice. I wouldn’t like to say which factor provides the greatest attraction. This year, the number of delegates was significantly smaller than in previous years with approximately 70-80 delegates attending the two day event. Immediately after this event a workshop was also held on future research priorities, which I was unfortunately unable to attend. Delegates represented the storage research community, regulators, industrial storage operators and NGOs.

We heard a review of CCS in Europe and the upcoming review of the EC Storage Directive from DG Clima, opinions on how to commercialise CCS in the UK from The Crown Estate and a review of CCS globally from Andrew Purvis, Europe General manager for the GCCCSI. The EC still regards CCS as an important option for reducing CO2 emissions. The Storage Directive is being reviewed this summer and this provides an opportunity to also review policy support for CCS. Dr Ward Goldthorpe from the Crown Estate highlighted the need for providing storage that had been assessed in detail to encourage further investment and the need to be able to accurately convey the often complex issues around storage risk to financial institutes.

The European Energy Research Alliance brings together large research institutes and now has 40 members and has defined the following research priorities:

  • Large storage pilots  – aiming at up to 100kt/yr
  • Site characterisation – improved predictive models (flow, geochemical, geomechanical)
  • Monitoring – detection and quantification of leakage, long term low cost monitoring
  • Safe and efficient storage exploitation – storage optimisation, prediction of leakage, remediation.

The proposal ERA-Net CCS co-fund was introduced by Aage Stangeland from Research Council Norway. Norway and Germany are leading the discussions around developing a co-fund with other interested member states with a budget in the region of €30-40m. The UK has expressed an interest in this. One of the priorities is support for storage pilots.

Case studies for projects at various scales and stages of development provided insights into technical challenges with developing CO2 storage sites. TAQA provided an update on the ROAD project, following successful application for Europe’s first storage permit for storage in the P18-4 depleted gas field. Plans for a comprehensive monitoring of the Hontomin pilot storage site outlined and the very successful approach to local engagement demonstrated that onshore injection can be achieved when effective communication is a central part of the project.  Plans for a storage pilot at Sulcis in Sardinia were also outlined, with planned pilot-scale injection in 2016 in aquifers and coal.

A range of technical presentations on leakage and its potential impacts in both onshore and offshore environments were made, including impacts from leaks offshore from the RISCS project, impacts on groundwaters obtained from studies of analogue systems in Italy, potential for pre-cursor indicators from brine or heavy metal release. Further presentations on long-term geochemical processes from the ULTimateCO2 consortium were also made.