UKCCSRC-CATO2 ECR Networking Meeting, York, 24-25 March 2014

First of all let me say this blog is embarrassingly late but I’ve been a busy bee teeing up some really exciting new opportunities for our Early Career Researchers (ECRs) so I hope I’ll be forgiven…

Each year, the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) host a networking meeting for UK ECRs to come together, in order to facilitate peer to peer sharing of knowledge and collaboration. This year, excitingly, the networking meeting was held jointly by UKCCSRC and CATO-2; the Dutch national R&D programme for CO2 capture, transport and storage. This approach allowed participants to get an insight into the CCS landscape in another country and discuss their research with people outside of their own institutions.

As the new Network Manager at UKCCSRC (one of my two hats), I was really excited about this meeting as it was the first event I had organised for UK ECRs since joining the centre in January of this year. Here are some of my highlights from our two days in York…

On Day 1 we played CATO-2’s CarbonFuture XXL game by way of an icebreaker activity. This game gives players the opportunity to make decisions as a member of a carbon intensive company’s management team and experience first-hand what it’s like to implement a low carbon strategy.

During the game, players had to negotiate with other teams on trading CO2 certificates and co-developing low carbon projects such as building a CO2 pipeline. The key take home message for me from the game was that the scenarios in the game are different to the real world; which is far more complicated and where CO2 prices are preventing CCS being a current option for companies. I think it was an interesting way of getting everyone mingling whilst providing an insight into the wider policy landscape we’re all working in.

On day 2 we had presentations in both plenary and breakout sessions but with plenty of time built in for the all-important networking between UK and Dutch participants.

Jan Hopman, CATO-2’s Deputy Program Director, Theo Mitchell, Policy Manager at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) and Hannah Chalmers, UKCCSRC Network Director gave presentations on the CCS landscape in the Netherlands, the UK CCS policy landscape and European CCS in the Bigger Picture respectively.  

A large chunk of the day was devoted to breakout sessions to give the ECRs a chance to discuss their research projects across a wide range of topics that were captured under the following headings; Capture and System Analysis; Chemical Looping and Pre-combustion Capture; Storage and Monitoring; Storage and Public Perception. As my second hat at the UKCCSRC is as Storage Research Manager, I attended and chaired the Storage and Public Perception session. The presentations were fascinating covering research being undertaken at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and at the University of Edinburgh.

Before we said goodbye, the CATO gang had another game for us, ‘cap-on-cap-off’, where we were asked some questions on climate change and CCS and indicated our answers by either keeping on or taking off our stylish CATO-2 branded baseball caps! No room for cheating in this one!

Overall, the vibe over the two days was fun and positive due to the time we had allocated for networking and other interactive sessions.  I hope the ECRs went away feeling they have a great opportunity to be part of the exciting and fast moving world of CCS.

The collaboration with CATO-2 is definitely something to be repeated and brought so many great things to the meeting programme; not least the game playing.

I’m looking forward to organising the next one…