The 2016 IEAGHG Summer School, hosted by University of Regina, is the 10th and a pivotal edition of the School thus far. SaskPower, an energy generating Crown Corporation in Saskatchewan (Canada), has retrofitted an amine-based CO2 capture system to a generator in one of their plants and allowed numerous site visits, including our group, since the installation. For researchers and experts within the CO2 capture, transport and storage (CCS) field this represents a key milestone in the development of CCS and the opportunity to visit and interact with those involved in the realisation of this project was of immense value.
The Summer School was a week-long intensive course covering all the aspects of CCS; ranging from the technicalities of different types of capture, transport and storage methods to the policy making drivers and business and economic perspectives. A range of speakers, instructors and students of varied nationalities, experiences and technical backgrounds formed the bulk of the Summer School community which became an excellent networking opportunity. In addition, all participants were placed in multi-disciplinary groups to work on a particular research question to present at the end of the week. What rendered this edition of the Summer School special however was the visit to the SaskPower capture facility, including the Shand test facility where ongoing international R&D projects are taking place.
This year five UKCCSRC members were selected to attend the summer school: Alessandro Domenico Calvi (Heriot-Watt University), Hayden Morgan (University of Nottingham), Toluwanimi Kolawole (Newcastle University), Ruta Karolyte (University of Edinburgh) and Babafemi Olugunwa (University of Strathclyde). In the paragraphs below they share their personal impressions and particular highlights from the week long programme.
Alessandro Domenico Calvi (Heriot-Watt University)
The summer school was a truly international and multi-disciplinary event with ample opportunities for learning and networking. The direct contact with experts and SaskPower delegates, all of which were keen to answer all our questions exhaustively and even self-critically, created the right atmosphere to evaluate the current state of CCS and plan to bring it forward for worldwide application. Despite the technical and economic difficulties faced by the CCS chain it quickly became apparent, in light of the other CCS case studies around the world in recent years, that the social implications of such engineering projects are of crucial importance as the community involvement, political willpower and clear public communication have been the elements which created the initial stepping stones to the project success.
Overall, the trip enabled us to learn from each other and from this highly impactful case study and the road to it becoming a reality. The week highlighted how the technical and economic issues can be overcome with engineering expertise whilst it is the local community aspect that needs to be nurtured from the start. It is this human element in CCS community that is essential to create our network of open collaboration to meet our end goals. These times call for a cross-cultural and cross-national collaboration to combat a climate problem that is of equal global magnitude.
Hayden Morgan (University of Nottingham)
While doing postgraduate studies it can be really easy to focus only on your own work and the work of those directly working around you. The IEAGHG international summer school gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who are working in the areas related to CCS. By taking a step away from my own work and talking to others, it has given me new perspectives in which to approach challenges that might arise. I come from a different background to most of the people working on CCS related projects so with the new connections I was able to make here, I can now reach out to people with different expertise for advice.
Throughout the week each day had multiple presentations on different aspects of CCS. Having previously completed a module on CCS I was a little worried that some of the presentations would be going over the same material but I was pleasantly surprised. Each session was presented by a professional very knowledgeable in their area who were able to answer questions posed to them. Even the sessions on some of the more basic concepts were able to introduce new specific examples from their own work which made things more interesting and understandable. The range of presentation was also very useful in providing a broader knowledge beyond the range of my current research.
On the Wednesday of the Summer School we visited Boundary Dam, which is located near Estevan around 2 hours South of Regina. The drive itself was something I had never experienced before as it was just one straight road, with hardly any traffic and all around was flat so you could see far into the distance. I had done previous work on pilot scale CCS plants but seeing the full scale project was something special to behold. The day we went around also happened to be the day they reached 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide captured. Seeing the plant for myself has put into perspective the sheer scale of the process which I will need to keep in mind when going forward with my work.
It was a great honour to be selected to attend the IEAGHG International Summer School in Regina Canada and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering applying for future Summer Schools.
Toluwanimi Kolawole (Newcastle University)
The IEAGHG summer was a great learning experience and invaluable opportunity to get a holistic knowledge of the field of CCS. It was five intense days of various lecture sessions on aspects of capture, transport and storage. In addition, there were sessions on business, legal and environmental aspects of CCS. Highlight lectures for me were the sessions that talked about Common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDRs) for nations in addressing CO2 emission limits, making a business case for CO2-EOR, technical writing and the talk on the establishment of a CCS Knowledge center partnership between BHPBilliton and SaskPower to share the knowledge learned from the Boundary Dam capture project with the world. I thought that was
I also thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the group work and working as part of a team of students to research a topic and give a presentation to other participants and the faculty.
My group’s topic was on the role of CCS in unlocking the unburnable carbon. This was quite an interesting and challenging topic due to the concept of unburnable carbon being fairly recent.
The trip to Boundary Dam was also an exciting part of the conference and one that I had been eagerly anticipating. Participants were taken on a tour at the Boundary Dam capture plant and Shand solvent testing facility. We were shown the various units of the capture plant and had the opportunity to ask questions on any aspects.
Following this, we were taken to the Aquistore storage site where the CO2 from the Boundary Dam plant was being stored. While we are at the site, we were given the news that the one-millionth ton of CO2 had been captured while we were onsite that resulted in the taking of some celebratory pictures.
To round off the conference, we had a dinner and award night by the Wascana Lake, an evening to reflect on our achievements during the week and for the future.
Babafemi Olugunwa (University of Strathclyde)
Ruta Karolyte (University of Edinburgh)