UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference – In Conversation with Bryony Livesey (ECR Meeting Fund)

index

Mohsen Lotfi (Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, Teesside University), Hassan Chamas (Brunel University London) and Aylin Kemal (Cranfield University) share their takeaways from the “In Conversation with Bryony Livesey” session at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

Jon Gibbins (UKCCSRC) and Bryony Livesey (IDC, UKRI) engaged in a comprehensive discussion regarding the UK’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC). They explored how it started, the challenges that came through along the way and the achievements. Their discussion highlighted the importance of developing low-carbon technologies and infrastructure. They emphasized that the initiative is not only about environmental sustainability, but also about enhancing industry competitiveness whilst simultaneously reducing emissions.

With the UK’s commitment to global leadership in clean technology and climate change mitigation, discussions revolve around the progression of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and the creation of low-carbon industrial clusters by 2030. The overarching goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. Emphasis has been placed on the pivotal role of industry collaboration and innovation in facilitating the shift towards cleaner energy infrastructure. These deliberations can be traced back to December 2018, when the UK pledged £170 million to establish low-carbon clusters integrating advanced technologies such as CCS.

Bryony, reflecting on her involvement, described joining the initiative in July 2019, six months after the challenge’s announcement on a temporary basis, tasked with delivering the challenge, and presenting evolving proposals and structural limitations.

She swiftly identified the need to restructure the approach, advocating for parallel cluster development rather than sequential progression. This marked a departure from the initial single project focus and required high levels of planning and stakeholder engagement.

Bryony’s strategic vision extended beyond structural adjustments, to include a holistic approach to project management. She emphasized the need for constantly adapting to industry dynamics by recognizing the evolving technological developments and market demands. Her advocacy for the development of multiple clusters reflected a high-level understanding of scalability and resource optimization, aiming to long-term sustainability.

Furthermore, Bryony’s implementation of a two-stage competition process showcased her strategic ability to foster collaboration and innovation. By aligning project objectives with industry needs, she developed an environment for diverse stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the challenge’s objectives. This approach not only enhanced project viability but also promoted knowledge sharing and skill development among participants, further enriching the collaborative ecosystem.

Despite initial skepticism, all proposed projects were implemented, demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability of the program. Bryony attributed this success to rigorous evaluation and strategic negotiation, including securing additional funding from the Treasury.

The conversation went deeply into the complexities of various projects within the IDC, highlighting the critical importance placed on infrastructure development, particularly in fields like CCS and hydrogen energy. Bryony’s description of the program’s collaborative values highlighted the significant role of knowledge sharing and skill enhancement within interconnected communities, emphasizing a collective effort towards sustainable solutions.

As the discussion progressed, Bryony expressed a forward-looking perspective, emphasizing the need to recognize successes and smoothly transition ownership of initiatives to industry stakeholders. Jon echoed this sentiment, praising Bryony’s outstanding leadership and dedication, recognizing her crucial contribution to the success of the IDC.

In essence, the conversation outlined a comprehensive review of the UK’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, summarising the obstacles and the accomplishments in the journey. Bryony’s strategic perspective and collaborations were the driving force behind the program’s ability to navigate complexities and yield tangible results, thereby setting a great example for effective industrial decarbonization initiatives on a global scale.

Briggs Ogunedo (Cranfield University) and Lucas Joel (University of Sheffield) share their takeaways from the Closing Keynote at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

The UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference concluded on a high note with an enlightening keynote address delivered by Guloren Turan from the Global CCS Institute (GCCSI). Guloren highlighted the remarkable growth trajectory witnessed in the CCS project pipeline over the past six years. Since 2017, there has been an impressive annual growth rate exceeding 35%, resulting in a substantial increase in CO2 capture capacity. Presently, there are 49 million tonnes per annum (MTPa) of CO2 capture capacity in operation, with 41 CCS facilities operational and 26 under construction. Moreover, an additional 325 facilities are in various stages of development, indicating a robust pipeline of CCS projects. These figures, derived from the 2022 Global Status of CCS report, underscore the unprecedented momentum achieved by CCS projects in recent years, showing a 102% year-on-year increase in the number of CCS facilities in the development pipeline.

In terms of CO2 transport and storage, Guloren emphasized the emergence of more complex logistics involving pipelines, ships, railways and combinations thereof. Notably, approximately 78% of CCS facilities under construction or in development are expected to utilize dedicated geological storage solutions. Across Europe, over 100 CCS facilities are currently in development, reflecting the region’s commitment to advancing CCS policies and projects. However, the United States leads the global landscape in both project implementation and policy development.

Japan has also made significant strides in CCS development, with seven candidate projects earmarked for feasibility studies within the country and abroad. Additionally, China achieved a significant milestone with the commencement of operations at its first 1 MTPa CCUS facility in 2022. Furthermore, countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia have reported progress in CCS project initiatives, further bolstering the global momentum towards decarbonization.

In conclusion, the insights shared by Guloren shed light on the remarkable growth and progress witnessed in the field of carbon capture and storage. With increasing global awareness of the urgent need to mitigate climate change, CCS projects play a pivotal role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning towards a sustainable future. To achieve capture targets in the order of gigatonnes, the widespread adoption of CCS technologies in developing economies, coupled with ongoing policy support from governments, and international collaboration, will be crucial in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and achieving climate targets on a global scale.

Yaoyao Zheng (University of Nottingham), Balkan Mutlu (Teesside University Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre), Ben Rhodes (University of Cambridge) and Xu Yang (University of Birmingham) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 5 – Global Updates” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

The second day of the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 conference delved into a range of topics, including discussions on the global development of CCS, with perspectives from China, Canada and Japan. This session was chaired by Dr. Abby Samson from the University of Sheffield, who warmly welcomed international presenters and underscored the outlook and significance of CCS development globally.

Speaker One – Prof. Xi Liang

Professor Xi Liang from University College London, also serving as the Secretary General and co-founder of UK-China (Guangdong) CCUS Centre, shared the latest development on the CCUS front in China. Over 100 projects are in operation, under construction or planned by the end of 2024. These will lead to an annual CO2 capture of over 9 million tons (Mt).

The power sector in China predominantly employs post-combustion capture with amine solution, complemented by a variety of other technologies such as membrane systems, pre-combustion capture with IGCC, oxy-fuel combustion, and chemical looping combustion. In the cement and steel industries, notable advancements included Conch Cement’s initiation of China’s first carbon capture plant in 2018, capable of capturing 50,000 tons of CO2 annually. Additionally, Bao Steel Group is constructing a carbon capture project in Inner Mongolia, China, targeting an annual 2 Mt of CO2 capture.

Prof Liang also brought attention to significant progress in carbon storage solutions, with examples including China’s 1st deep saline aquifer, CO2 storage demo project initiated by Shenhua in 2011, China National Offshore Oil Corporation offshore CO2 storage project in 2021 with a targeting annual CO2 storage capacity of 300,000 tons. In addition, Shaanxi Coal and Chemical Industry Group are planning a 4 Mt carbon storage project, making it China’s biggest carbon storage initiative to date.

There has also been CCUS cluster planning in China, nationally and internationally. Professor Liang expressed optimism about commercial prospects between China and the UK, especially markets in carbon capture, transport, usage, storage and industry capacity building within the CCUS sector.

Speaker Two – Mr. Neil Wildgust

Neil Wildgust from Carbon Management Canada (CMC) had a message for everyone that stuck – ‘don’t take storage for granted.’ As the technology, frameworks and integration aim to maintain the course of rapid development to reach climate targets, the unavoidable need for reliable, enormous-scale and risk-free storage cannot be understated. Failed storage equals no CCS.

The great potential and work on CCS in the Canadian states of Alberta and Saskatchewan were well summarised in Neil’s presentation. Currently, there are three operational CCS projects (incl. EOR and coal power PCC) at the Mt yr-1 scale nationally, with 26 projects in Alberta alone in the running for funding and development, with up to 10 aiming for delivery in the coming years. The federal government currently offers tax credit support for CAPEX as well as effective federal carbon pricing aiming to reach CA$170 per ton by 2031. In addition to this, in Alberta, the province offers more flexible tax credits to aim to encourage more industrial engagement.

However, much of the success of CCS projects in Canada  relies heavily on governmental grants. Industrial investment remains somewhat cautious due to potentially volatile political decisions with opposition parties proposing future scrapping of any carbon tax.

This uncertainty for investment must be overcome in order to drive CCS forward in Canada, with government incentives either replaced or guaranteed to ensure the growth of CCS is driven at the required rate. Certainty in technology can be aided through initiatives such as CMC’s Newell County test site, which aims to build a test DAC unit on-site in the near future.

Speaker Three – Prof. Toru Sato

Professor Toru Sato from the University of Tokyo shared pivotal insights into Japan’s CCS initiatives, emphasising the country’s goal for carbon neutrality by 2050, as announced at COP25 in 2019. Following the recent approval of the CCS Business Act in 2024, Japan is setting a rigorous framework for CCS, underlining the importance of long-term well monitoring and maintenance to ensure safety and sustainability.

By 2030, CCS aims to offset 10-20% of Japan’s annual 1 gigatonne CO2 emissions, with industrial consortiums mobilizing around strategic clusters and ports designated for CO2 exportation due to low social public acceptance. This plan includes exporting CO2 to Malaysia and leveraging their depleted oil and gas fields for storage.

Challenges such as high operational costs, the need for continuous government funding, and stringent regulations, including the requirement for mandatory CO2 monitoring in seawater, underscored the complexities of Japan’s CCS journey. The innovative approach of Sato’s research team, which used AI to model CO2 leakage by drawing analogies to natural volcanic activities, offered promising solutions to these challenges.

Ben Petrovic (Brunel University, London), Marcin Pokora (University of Sheffield), Stephen Shearan (Swansea University) and Amin Taghavinejad (University of Glasgow) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 4 – European Updates” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

Figure 1: Stuart Haszeldine introduces the fourth plenary session at the UKCCSRC’s 2024 Spring Conference at The University of Manchester.

The fourth plenary session marked the start of the second day at the UKCCSRC’s Spring 2024 Conference, which aimed to take an international view of CCS, with this first plenary session looking to explore the view in Europe. The sessions on the previous day gave the current status of a number of the larger UK projects and clusters, such as the East Coast Cluster and HyNet, delivered by Ben Kek and David Walker, respectively. We also saw talks from Nicola O’Dowd (DESNZ), a conversation with Bryony Livesey of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, and a series of more technical research talks.  Overall, this first day provided an in-depth overview of the UK CCS landscape and highlighted the current path to the future of CCS in the UK.

Figure 2: Speakers from the fourth plenary of the UKCCSRC Spring Conference 2024. From left to right: Joop Hazenberg, CCSA (Brussels); Brigitte Jacobs, CATO; David Phillips, Aker Carbon Capture.

Kicking off the first session of the day was Joop Hazenberg, EU Director of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA). One of the major takeaways from Joop’s talk was the imminent introduction of the Net-Zero Industry Act, which is due to be enacted in June 2024 and will apply to all EU member states immediately, with no need of transposition of the act into law. The act stems from the Green Deal Industrial Plan and is intended to be a mechanism for the scale-up green technology manufacture within the EU, pushing the transition to extremely low, zero, or negative greenhouse gas emissions. Joop also provided an overview of some of the projections for CCS and CCU up to 2050 (Figure 3 below). From the projections shown, CCS and CCU projects are expected to be capturing 50 Mt/y of CO2 by 2030, increasing more than five-fold to 280 Mt/y by 2040, and finally growing to 450 Mt/y by 2050. As for storage, it is predicted that at least 250 Mt/y of CO2 will be subject to long-term storage by 2040, with the rest accounted for by CCU projects.

Figure 3: Projections for the amounts of CO2 captured for storage and utilisation in the EU (top chart) and the share of captured CO2 by origin (bottom chart).[1]

The source of these emissions is also projected to change massively by 2050, which is not unexpected as process emissions fall purely through emissions reduction, as organisations push for inherently cleaner processes. With this reduction in process emissions, the share from other emissions sources is set to grow, though this might not necessarily be the case for all sources, i.e. fossil fuel and biogenic emissions. On the other hand, direct air capture (DAC) is expected to increase massively, with almost 40% of captured CO2 being via DAC by 2050. An additional projection sees the EU market potential for CCU and CCS being worth between €45 billion and €100 billion. Some of the highlights presented by Joop show that transport will be a key area of focus in the near future, with investment in transport infrastructure potentially amounting to €6.2 and 9.2 billion by 2030, potential for CO2 transport regulation, and a possible Important Project of Common European Interest for transport and storage. In total, European CCS projects are expected to amount to approximately €10 billion by 2030.

Following Joop’s speech, the next talk was delivered by Brigitte Jacobs, Program Director at CATO (“CO2 Afvang, Transport en Opslag” (CO2 capture, transport and storage)), where she works across the whole value chain from capture to transport and storage of carbon. In her presentation, Brigitte provided CCS updates in the Netherlands, and introduced TNO, a leading Dutch CCS institute with projects on both the storage (Porthos and Aramis) and capture (LAUNCH and DIMMER) of CO2.

Figure 4: Brigitte Jacobs (CATO) walks the audience through TNO’s role in research in the Netherlands.

TNO is the largest independent applied research institute in the Netherlands. At over 90 years old and with more than 4000 employees, the institute works across the complete value chain, collaborating with academia and the wider markets and organisations. The Netherlands is committed to the Paris Agreement to reach carbon neutrality in 2050, with the ambition of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2030. Industry in the Netherlands will be responsible for an 18.8 megatons reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, with around 50% of that by the virtue of CCS. TNO, with its support to the nation’s CO2 transport and storage projects, will aid these ambitious 2030 targets. The two storage projects Brigitte walked us through were Porthos and Aramis. The Porthos project intends to re-use existing infrastructure (platforms and wells), transporting CO2 via a collective pipeline to a platform 20km off the coast and into a depleted gas field over 3km below the North Sea. The storage site has a capacity of around 37 Mt CO2 equating to a storage rate of approximately 2.5 Mt per year for 15 years. The second storage project, Aramis, is a public-private partnership with open access and non-discriminatory terms and conditions. The project intends to achieve a maximum capacity of 22 Mt CO2 per year with an expected total storage capacity of over 400 megatons facilitating connections to several European clusters progressing towards their decarbonisation.

Aside from the transport and storage of CO2, its capture is also the focus of a number of research directions in the Netherlands, centring on amine degradation and regional emissions. The LAUNCH project coordinated by TNO has 11 partners from the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Norway and the USA, and was co-funded by the ERA-NET Accelerating CCS Technologies Initiative. The project aimed to provide insight into amine degradation mechanisms and to develop a publicly available solvent qualification programme de-risking CCS deployment by accelerating solvent development and implementation. The DIMMER project focuses on regional emissions with a view to assess the economic potential of different CO2 capture integration strategies and various methods for transportation and storage. One of the objectives is to change the CCS design perspective, bringing a holistic approach from source to sink, addressing both technical and non-technical challenges ending in a pilot-plant design which will consider the full-scale system essentially de-risking industrial decarbonisation. The third project mentioned was the multilayer REALISE project which finished at the end of 2023 and focused on the decarbonisation of refineries via CCUS. This resulted in the launch of OCTOPUS (Online Calculator To Optimise CO2 Capture Processes for Multiple Stacks), an open access tool for high-level evaluations on the feasibility of post-combustion CO2 capture for industrial processes.

Figure 5: David Phillips (Aker Carbon Capture) introduces his presentation highlighting his company’s role in deploying CCUS.

The final presenter of the session was David Phillips, who is currently serving as the Head of Capital Markets and New Market Strategy at Aker Carbon Capture, based in the United Kingdom. David outlined the offerings of Aker Carbon Capture, emphasizing three key modular capture systems. Firstly, he introduced the Just Catch™ 40, which has a CO2 capacity of 40 ktpa within a compact footprint of 13m x 23m, deliverable in under 22 months. Following that, he introduced the Just Catch™ 100, offering a CO2 capacity of 100 ktpa with dimensions of 19m x 24m, available within a timeframe exceeding 22 months. Lastly, he discussed the latest addition, the Just Catch™ 400, featuring an impressive capacity of 400 ktpa, yet maintaining a relatively compact footprint of 30m x 55m, deliverable within a timeframe of 24-30 months. David highlighted a significant advantage of the Just Catch™ systems: their modularity. This modular advantage sets them apart from other capture systems. Aker Carbon Capture’s ability to concurrently construct three Just Catch™ systems in parallel significantly reduces the space required for an efficient CO2 capture system. It was also noted that, while the CO2 capture system in Technology Centre Mongstad at the time wasn’t minimized in size, the implementation of Just Catch™ could potentially reduce the space for CO­2 capture by approximately 90% compared to the Technology Centre Mongstad system.

To conclude his presentation, David highlighted several ongoing projects by Aker Carbon Capture that are making a significant impact across Europe and beyond. Notably, Aker Carbon Capture has secured the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for Hafslund Oslo Celsio’s CCS project, centred on their waste-to-energy plant at Klemetsrud in Norway. This project will utilize Aker Carbon Capture’s modularized Just Catch™ 400 unit. Additionally, Aker Carbon Capture is set to deploy five Just Catch™ units for a large-scale carbon capture project at the Ørsted Kalundborg Hub in Denmark. David also shed light on Aker Carbon Capture’s involvement in CCS capture projects in the UK, including their recent achievement of securing the Process Design Package (PDP) for designing studies aimed at establishing a post-combustion capture plant in Kent for the Uniper Grain Power Station. Furthermore, Aker Carbon Capture projects extend to the United States, where they will collaborate with a leading pulp and paper company to facilitate the full-scale deployment of multiple Just Catch™ 400 modular capture facilities, complete with permanent storage solutions and the generation of carbon removal credits.

In summary, this plenary session kicked off the day with a promising and exciting overview of the European CCS landscape, ranging from policy developments in the Net Zero Industry Act, to a number of large-scale projects which looks to be a massive leap in the right direction towards achieving our goals of industrial decarbonisation and net zero.

References

Communication “Securing our future – Europe’s 2040 climate target and path to climate neutrality by 2050 building a sustainable, just and prosperous society”, COM(2024) 63 (‘EU’s 2040 climate target communication”.

Roberto Loza (Cardiff University), Fayez Qureshi (Cranfield University) and Timothy Namaswa (University of Aberdeen) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 3 – UKCCSRC funded research: Industry supported projects” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

The UKCCSRC Spring Conference in Manchester brought many insights into the status of CCS in the UK, Europe and globally. In Plenary 3 we heard about completed and ongoing state-of-the-art research projects that are funded by the UKCCSRC. It is great to see how much can be done when supporting ECRs!

Fugitive amine scrubbing using electrostatic precipitation

Dr Peter Clough from Cranfield University, now working for the company ERM, gave an insightful talk about amine scrubbing. ERM has a wide experience supporting industrial communities in developing decarbonisation strategies and roadmaps. They are the world’s largest pure play sustainability consultancy.

Interesting research was carried out about amine scrubbing using electrostatic precipitation (ESP) process. There are various filtration mechanisms present, but the idea was to have capture mechanisms in flue gases that must limit the pressure drop. A few options listed can be activated carbon/sorbent bed, chemical scrubbing, water wash and electrostatic precipitation of aerosols.

An electrostatic precipitator (ESP) removes particles from a gas stream by using electrical energy to charge particles either positively or negatively. This has advantages such as minimal pressure drop, high collection efficiency, manageable energy demands and no replenishment resource demands. Peter’s research involved the design and modelling of different amines, highlighting some practical issues. His work found that 39% water was captured when applying 10 kV as compared to 28% without voltage, showing a better capture performance of amine ESP with higher voltage.

His future work will be to investigate the effect of operating parameters – electric field strength, distance, temperature, concentration and particle size, hopefully supported by industry.

Identifying the subsurface microbial response to CO2 storage conditions within depleted oilfield systems

Leanne Walker from the University of Manchester presented an interesting research project, unveiling unexpected insights into the effects of CO2 injection on subsurface microbial communities within depleted oilfields. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, her findings indicate that the introduction of high concentrations of CO2 does not lead to a collapse in microbial diversity or functional potential. Instead, her experiments demonstrate a significant population shift within the microbial community. This suggests a resilient and adaptable response to the altered subsurface conditions resulting from CO2 injection.

This research provides an understanding of the complex interactions between CO2 storage and subsurface microbial ecology. Leanne Walker’s conclusions offer valuable implications for future carbon management strategies, highlighting the need to consider the dynamic nature of microbial communities in depleted oilfield environments when designing and implementing CO2 storage initiatives.

Her future work will focus on developing biotechnological tools to identify problematic microbes and collaborating with ExxonMobil to repeat experiments using diverse oil and gas produced waters.

Post-Combustion Capture – Cost and Residual Emission Reduction (PCC – CARER)

Daniel Mullen presented the results of research funded by the UKCCSRC and industry project partners (SSE Thermal and Bechtel). His research aims to better predict and model the process of ultra-high CO2 capture levels with low energy inputs. Multiple tests were performed using the unique amine capture plant at the Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC) at the University of Sheffield.

Daniel’s research discovered a consistent inflexion point for capture levels of 95% and above as the stripper pressure increased, creating contrasting “good” and “bad” scenarios (Fig. 2).

The takeaways from his talk are that (1) pressure is a critical factor for achieving lean loadings at reasonable energy inputs, (2) liquid flow to the stripper no higher than the energy available can strip to the required lean loading, and (3) some flexibility in lean loading should be considered if it is above the inflection point and higher than required for the capture level.

Niamh Hartley (University of Cambridge), Smitha Gopinath (University of Sheffield), Mike Gorbounov (Brunel University London) and Ibrahim Kadafur (Heriot-Watt University) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 2 – Industry Updates: Projects” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

In the second session of the conference, we were able to listen to two industrial businesses about how they are moving towards integrating carbon capture into their processes. The first talk was from Edward Thomas from Viridor. Viridor is a waste company committed to being carbon neutral by 2040 and carbon negative by 2045 – two very exciting goals from the largest energy recovery process in the UK.

The talk was centered on Runcorn Energy Recovery Facility, based in Manchester, which currently processes 1 million tonnes of waste per year. Edward asked, “Should the waste sector be taking part in carbon capture?”, and his answer was a resounding yes! The combined heat and power can produce electricity and heat energy from steam for the community, while the CO2 emissions will be captured using a MEA-based solvent system. This allows the community of Greater Manchester to benefit from their own waste production, 51% of which is biogenic.

We then heard from VPI Immingham for Humber Zero introduced by Karina Castaneda Diaz, with Mayowa Akinrinlola giving a detailed overview. VPI has provided power and steam to 25% of the UK since 2004 from two refineries: Humber oil refinery and Lindsey oil refinery. Humber Zero is a carbon capture project based at Humber oil refinery with the goal to capture 3.8 million tons of CO2 per year. This will not only reduce CO2 emissions but also invigorate the local community with £2 billion of investment and 2500+ jobs created. This is planned to be in commercial operation by 2028, however not without its challenges.

Mayowa then gave some insight into the various hiccups experienced when retrofitting a post-combustion carbon capture plant. Integrating a capture plant requires a large number of infrastructural changes alongside some congestion problems within the pre-existing emitters – ducting seemed to be a surprisingly big issue! Other challenges such as NOx control and constructability were also discussed, drawing a more detailed understanding of how carbon capture can be implemented in a pre-existing processes.

Both companies were committed to carbon capture with the view that an extra step in the process will create more jobs for the local communities and the investment will help the local areas. The focus of helping and working alongside the local community around these plants was refreshing and exciting to see. Let’s hope these capture plants can be implemented soon!

Kelvin Awani (Cranfield University), Shervan Babamohammadi (University of Wolverhampton) and Billy Davies (Brunel University London) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 1 – Industry Updates: Clusters” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

With the announcements last year of the HyNet and East Coast being taken forward as the Track One clusters, we heard from Ben Kek and David Walker to discuss the latest updates from these clusters. In the first plenary session, Ben and David discussed the potential of decarbonising heavy industry through cluster development, emphasising the need for a comprehensive approach that includes existing industries, new technologies and government support. They highlighted the project’s aim to serve multiple clusters and create a large-scale decarbonisation impact.

First up was Ben Kek discussing the East Coast Cluster and how the cluster is propelling the rejuvenation of industrial heartlands in Humber and Teesside. The plan aims to develop 17 projects, generating 25,000 jobs annually by 2050, while slashing industry cluster CO2 emissions by 50%, with the aim of storing 4 MT per annum of CO2 offshore by 2027 (see figure below).

Despite challenges, there is excellent progress being made with the cluster being on track to reach Final Investment Decision (FID) by September 2024. The cluster has benefitted with increased participation from both regulatory bodies and research. A key aim for the cluster is the benefit of 25,000 jobs, to enable this a skilled workforce is required. BP’s funding of a clean energy education hub in Teesside offers promising opportunities for aspiring engineers to develop the skills required to ensure the success of the cluster. Significant progress has been made within the development of this cluster to ensure it is successful, risk identification and mitigation are key to attract investors as the development of low-carbon industry takes off worldwide.

David Walker then discussed the updates within the HyNet cluster. Amidst the complexity of hydrogen systems and direct capture demand, a committed consortium fuelled by regional needs drives progress. The project encompasses a wide array of hydrogen users, emphasizing low-carbon production and innovative storage solutions. From underground pipelines for CO2 transport to meticulous testing of industrial fuel switching, every aspect converges towards a sustainable future. Academia plays a pivotal role in research endeavours, illuminating the path towards environmental and economic imperatives. With a focus on Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), particularly within high energy intensive sectors like cement and lime. As pieces align for the FID, HyNet is forging a path towards a greener tomorrow. David highlighted the importance of hydrogen distribution and storage for decarbonisation, with a focus on regional demand layers and supply chain requirements. He outlined plans for hydrogen production and distribution in north-west England, leveraging existing infrastructure.

The insights shared by Ben and David on the developments within the East Coast and HyNet clusters underscore a pivotal moment in the journey towards decarbonisation and industrial rejuvenation in the UK. These clusters not only symbolise innovation and forward-thinking in tackling climate change but also hold the promise of economic revitalisation through job creation and sustainable industrial practices. The comprehensive strategies discussed, from harnessing new technologies and fostering government support, to developing skilled workforces and ensuring rigorous risk management, are instrumental in propelling these projects towards their ambitious goals. As both clusters navigate the complexities of decarbonising heavy industry, their progress serves as a beacon of hope and a model for sustainable development worldwide. The collaborative effort across various sectors and the emphasis on practical, scalable solutions highlight the transformative potential of cluster development in achieving a greener, more resilient future.

Kofo Awodun (Brunel University London), Azibayam Amabogha (University of Glasgow), Meisam Ansarpour (University of Wolverhampton) & Sunera Athauda (Cranfield University) share their takeaways from the Welcome and Opening Keynote talk at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

Jon Gibbins (UKCCSRC Director and Professor at the University of Sheffield) welcomed attendees, highlighting the significance of the conference for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to network and collaborate on decarbonization efforts. He introduced the UKCCSRC Flexible Funding 2024 and encouraged researchers to leverage the opportunities presented at the conference.

Figure 1 – Jon Gibbins (UKCCSRC Director) welcoming all attendees to the 2024 Spring Conference

After this, he went ahead to introduce the keynote speaker – Nicola O’Dowd.

Nicola O’Dowd is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) leading the Power CCUS project within Track-1 of the Cluster Sequencing Programme. She joined the programme at the time of assessment of the initial capture project submissions, and has followed the development through to this latest critical stage of the programme. She transitioned into this sector following a successful career as a geoscientist within the seismic industry.

Nicola delivered the keynote speech on “CCUS Policy in the UK,” emphasizing the necessity of Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) for climate preservation. She outlined projects for 2024, including the HyNet Project and the East Coast Cluster Project. She shared DESNZ’s CCUS vision with attendees, which encompasses 4 things:

  • Decarbonising for future generations – Aligning to a carbon budget compliant CO2 abatement pathway
  • Global leader – Exporting the UK supply chain to help other countries build CCUS, as well as using UK CO2 stores to sequester other countries’ emissions
  • Creating growth and supporting levelling up – Creating low carbon inward investment opportunities through support for a UK CCUS sector
  • Building a self-sustaining CCUS sector – Increasing private sector confidence in a growing CCUS market that leads to a reduction in government support

Figure 2 – Nicola O’Dowd giving the keynote address

This vision is expected to be executed in three phases. Nicola introduced the “CCUS Vision: Three Phase Model” consisting of:

  1. Market Creation Phase (now until 2030)
  2. Market Transition Phase (2030 – 2035)
  3. Self-sustaining Market Phase (2035 onwards)

She stated that 2023 was a landmark year for DESNZ with the passing of the Energy Act, and highlighted the 2024 expectations including:

  • Concluding on the Final Investment Decisions for Track 1 Projects
  • Expression of interest, submission and subsequent launch of Track 1 expansion for HyNet
  • Assessment of store readiness for Track 1 expansion in the East Coast Cluster
  • Engaging with Acorn and Viking directly on next steps
  • Working to develop a plan for the delivery outlined in the CCUS vision

She concluded by urging ambition and perseverance in driving CCUS initiatives forward, saying, “We need to continue to dream big, to be ambitious and to drive forward”.

In the realm of groundbreaking research and academic exploration, the UKCCSSRC organized a stimulating and collaborative awayday at Brunel University on November 15th 2023. This enriching session brought together Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from diverse backgrounds, fostering an environment ripe for the exchange of innovative ideas, sharing of research endeavours, and valuable insights into career paths within the field of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The day commenced with an engaging group exercise designed to ignite collaborative thinking and brainstorming. ECRs were presented with thought-provoking questions centered around CCS, encouraging them to share their visionary ideas and strategies. This exercise not only stimulated creative thinking but also facilitated the sharing of varied perspectives and approaches among the attendees.

Following this interactive session was the compelling “3-Minute PhD Thesis Presentation.” A cohort of talented PhD researchers took the stage, offering concise yet comprehensive glimpses into their pioneering works. Each presentation encapsulated the depth and significance of their research, highlighting the innovative solutions and contributions being made in the realm of CCS.

Roberto Loza delivering his 3-Minute Thesis presentation

Moreover, the event featured some distinguished UKCCSSRC members who shared their enlightening career journey. This segment was a treasure trove of wisdom for the attending ECRs, as the speakers imparted valuable advice gleaned from their experiences. Insightful narratives about challenges overcome, milestones achieved and pivotal career decisions made for an inspiring and educational session. The discussion offered a roadmap for navigating the complex landscape of academia and research in the field of CCS.

Throughout the Awayday, the spirit of collaboration and knowledge exchange was palpable, fostering an atmosphere conducive to learning and networking. The event not only provided a platform for sharing cutting-edge research but also emphasized the importance of mentorship and guidance for burgeoning researchers in the field.

CCS Career Pathway Session: From L-R – Carys Blunt (UKCCSRC), Chet Biliyok (Petrofac), Lydia Rycroft (DESNZ) and Salman Soltani (Brunel University)

The diversity of backgrounds among the ECRs in attendance added a rich tapestry of perspectives, contributing to the vibrant discussions and exchange of ideas. The event served as a testament to the UKCCSSRC’s commitment to nurturing and empowering the next generation of researchers in carbon capture and storage. Information on next events organised by UKCCSRC was delivered alongside the closing remarks by Carys Blunt, the UKCCSRC Finance and Centre Manger, who chaired the session all through along with her colleagues, Rachel Money and Helen Gregory.

In conclusion, the UKCCSSRC’s awayday at Brunel University was a resounding success, characterized by collaborative engagement, insightful discussions and the celebration of pioneering research in CCS. It encapsulated the essence of fostering a community-driven approach towards tackling the challenges of carbon capture and storage while guiding and inspiring the future leaders and innovators in this critical field.

Ibrahim Kadafur, Heriot-Watt University

The UKCCSRC recently supported five ECRs to attend the International Summer School in “Global Just Transition: Equity in Net Zero” led by UKERC, in conjunction with the UKCCSRC and others.  David Eshun (University of Chester), Tolulope Falope (Cranfield University), Idris Bukar (Imperial College, London), Oyinebielador Derrick Odondiri (University of Southampton) and Jaqueline de Oliveira Brotto (Imperial College, London) share their experiences and insights into what was clearly an incredible week!

L-R: Derrick, David, Jaqueline, Tolulope and Idris

The International Summer School in “Global Just Transition: Equity in Net Zero” took place on 19-23th June 2023, in Newcastle (UK). The event aimed to unite international researchers from different areas – engineering, politics, law and social sciences – in training and development activities, all with a common goal: to discuss the global implementation of Net Zero. The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) was responsible for the organization together with seven other research consortia and institutions: HI-ACTSupergen Energy Networks Hub, Energy Transitions Centre CambridgeIDLES, Faraday Institution, CREDS, UKCCSRC and Energy Research Accelerator. During the week, attendees were able to participate in lectures, networking, poster presentations, technical visits and the challenge of proposing scenarios for Developing a Green Growth Strategy for Zambia.

Day 1 – Monday 19th June – by David Eshun

The weather on the first day was refreshing and the city of Newcastle was welcoming with some magnificent architectural works. After the initial registration and exchange of pleasantries among participants, the International Summer School commenced with a welcoming address, which spelt out the activities lined up for the week and underscored the need for a fair and just transition. Two presentations were made about the journey of energy transitions in Scotland and those of Ghana, outlining some successes made, challenges and the possibility of attaining net zero carbon in the timeframes set. There was an exposé on a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion tool, known as the “EDI Cube”, a necessary tool that could be used in future projects.

A session on communication skills then talked about the importance of communicating one’s research effectively to the appreciation of the target audience, without suffering the plague of the “curse of knowledge”. The last session of the day was a panel discussion on “What to Look for in a Pitch”. The speakers shared their experiences and practical ways they’ve dealt with challenges in their careers.

 

 

Day 2 – Tuesday 20th June – by Tolulope Falope

Global Equity: Knowledge Exchange Showcase – The first session focused on knowledge exchange. Dr. Ala’a Shehabi, the chair of the panel, gave some background and an introduction. The first speaker, Prof. Karen Henwood, spoke about mobilising energy and industrial decarbonisation transition trajectories in FLEXIS. She also spoke about some of the methodologies her team were adopting in the case study of Port L’Hebert, and the advantages of working in a transdisciplinary research team.

Dr. Felix Dorn focused on Ethnographic field research on Lithium mining in Latin America, particularly in Argentina. He focused on the impact of this mining on indigenous people. A resistance in the form of a 33-community assembly kicked out against mining, highlighting its effect on water in the area. Dr. Felix emphasised using a subjective approach (neutrality, information sharing and mutual learning), while engaging with the locals for 11 months on-site. He talked about methodological pluralism, using interviews, standard questionnaires, photography and videography in his research. Dr. Felix filmed a documentary called “Bajo La Sal”, to highlight the realities of mining as part of his scholar activism. He also organised classes for the locals to help them understand the value chain of Lithium so that they are better informed during negotiations with the mining companies.

Thembi Luckett spoke on developing feminist and creative collaborations in South Africa.  Marapong, in South Africa, is a location that has coal deposits for coal-powered plants in the region. Thembi and her team used “Body Mapping” to show the effects of coal mining on women, culminating in a body mapping exhibition. She then introduced two locals she is working with: Cleopatra and Francisca. Cleopatra spoke about “energy racism” and the fact that even though the region produces coal mining to fuel the power station, the inhabitants don’t have access to electricity. Her work also highlighted the impacts on local businesses because electricity is critical to scaling and sustaining businesses. She made a plea for researchers to engage directly with issues on the ground and not from their offices or behind laptops. Francisca gave the background of her area, stating it was a prominent farming district. But that all changed when the miners arrived. The power plant that was constructed, the fourth biggest in the hemisphere, had little impact on the locals because they had no access to the electricity. She mirrored a lot of Cleopatra’s points on collaboration between academics and end users. She also spoke about the difficulties in accessing finance and her difficulty in getting a visa to present her findings at the Summer School.

Abiba Mayaki Diallo was unable to speak because of her remote location but a representative spoke on her behalf. The NGO she works with, Kana Donse Fanyi, is a national organisation founded in 1992 to contribute to the fight against malnutrition and poverty by reducing food waste through conserving agricultural products. Their objectives include training local women on how to process, conserve, produce and market their agricultural products. They educate households on healthy diets and creating healthy baby food. Their core net zero vision is reducing food waste and encouraging people to adopt a healthy diet. Their current project, funded by Alcoa Foundation, aims to increase food security, and reduce food waste in the mining area. In the project, 45 women are divided in groups of 15 and trained on optimising food process to reduce waste. A processing unit, a solar dryer and a cereal grinding mill have been installed by the project sponsor. This project also supports 412 children. She highlighted limited access to financing, exchange with scientists and access to other technology as barriers to transition to net zero. She concluded that food drying is essential in reducing food waste.

Academic Session – At this point, we had a break and split into two groups for the next session. The academic session had two topics: Industrial Energy System Integration and Flexibility, and Industrial Decarbonisation. I attended the former where Dr. Meysam Qadrdan spoke on maximising flexibility through energy systems integration. He started by focusing on how balancing supply and demand is key for maintaining the system frequency. The National Grid is obliged to maintain the frequency within 1%. If demand is greater than supply, frequency goes below 50 Hz and vice versa. Traditionally, demand has been driven by consumer consumption. Dr. Meysam concluded that we must have flexibility in supply and demand to maintain a stable grid. He was followed by Dr. Padriag Lyon who spoke on the International Energy Research Centre’s (IERC) climate action plan work in Ireland. The Climate Action Plan 2023 aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050 and a reduction of 51% by 2030. He also drew a contrast between the UK and Ireland, with the former having a grid system peak of 55 GW while Ireland peaks at 5.7 GW. With a clear mapping of Ireland’s assets, limitations and expertise, Dr. Padriag gave us a clear road map to achieve net-zero unique to Ireland.

Site Visit to DER Industrialisation Centre – Our team went on a visit to the Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) North-East Industrialisation Centre. It was riveting and Professor Derrick Holliday talked us through a lot of the machines installed on-site. He explained what each machine does and how they can be used to scale production while reducing manufacturing lead times. It was interesting to see how their approach in perfecting the manufacturing process covers testing, design and validation for many businesses using power electronics, machines, and electronic drives.

 

Networking Event: Poster Session – The day ended with participants showcasing their research in a poster presentation. We were given enough time to engage with researchers and quiz them on their work. The posters were diverse and reflected a broad spectrum of competencies centred around energy. In all, it was a very information-packed filled day, and I was glad that I got to attend.

     

Day 3 – Wednesday 21st June – by Idris Bukar

Wednesday began with a session on building international partnerships in the journey to global equity in Net Zero. Experiences were shared by speakers from diverse organisations including Energy Research Accelerator/HyDEX and Love the Oceans, a non-profit marine conservation organisation. This was followed by an interactive session where the participants explored alternative social theories for equity, justice and sustainability in the energy transition. The session involved setting the scene by the chair, Rihab Khalid (University of Cambridge), followed by discussions in groups in response to prompts.

     

The session then broke into two parallel academic sessions – one on addressing energy demand and economics, and the other discussing energy governance and environmental justice. The highlight of the session on energy demand was an analysis of electricity demand data, showing a real example of how electricity demand varied on a particular day in the UK, including how a football match involving England produced distinct patterns in the energy demand curve.

It was on this day as well that the capstone team project for the Summer School was introduced: developing a green growth strategy for Zambia. The session began with an introduction to thinking about future scenarios in social and technical systems. The socio-economic and energy context of Zambia was presented to provide a good background and inform any strategies to be developed as to how they would interact with the realities on the ground. A green growth context was also presented, highlighting Zambia’s current efforts to transition to a green economy. The session was chaired by Katherine Sugar (University of Edinburgh), and the scenario was presented by Nick Hughes (UCL). Experts in the room who provided the socio-economic, energy and green growth context of Zambia included Bernard Tembo (Tec Analytics Zambia) and Mulima Nyambe‑Mubanga (Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research).

Site visits continued, with groups of participants visiting the Industrialisation Centre and Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGReL), a fully integrated whole energy systems development and demonstration facility. InTEGReL is accelerating the hydrogen market in the North of England by producing low carbon energy for electricity, transportation and gas. The site visit included going to a demonstration house where hydrogen is used for cooking, heating and other domestic uses.

The final session for the day was one on the importance of networking, highlighting key techniques. The session was chaired by Elizabeth Adams (Scafell Coaching).

Day 4 – Thursday 22th June – by Oyinebielador Derrick Odondiri

On Thursday, students embarked on a collaborative project focused on the task and problem clinic introduced the day before. We were privileged to have experts from academia, industry and the Ministry of Green Energy in Zambia deliver presentations that shed light on the challenges ahead. These presentations and ensuing discussions opened our minds to think beyond our technical backgrounds, urging us to consider inclusion and just transitions in relation to the roles of the Government, international donor agencies, energy utilization, transportation, agriculture, the influence of politics and other key actors in Zambia.

To kick-start our brainstorming process, we were divided into ten groups. Each group was assigned the task of developing a green growth strategy for Zambia by 2063. Additionally, we were given the assignment of preparing a 2-3 page brief addressing the question: “How can the transformation of the energy system between now and 2063 contribute to a just transition in Zambia?” We were also encouraged to create a presentation for the Ministry, which we were scheduled to deliver the following day.

Later in the day, we engaged in a session focused on building career skills and developing our research identities. This session was truly inspiring as it provided us with an opportunity to connect with each other, both in person and via LinkedIn. We delved into various barriers that hinder students from establishing meaningful connections.

The day concluded with a delightful silent disco and dinner party at the Vermont Hotel. As we savoured the delicious meals, our minds were already occupied with thoughts of the upcoming presentations scheduled for 9:00am the next day.

Day 5 – Friday 23th June – by Jaqueline de Oliveira Brotto

On the last day of the Summer School, we had the presentation of scenarios for Developing a Green Growth Strategy for Zambia. In total, 10 groups participated, and each group had five minutes to present their strategy. At the end of the presentations, the jury gathered to elect the best groups in three different categories: presentation/pitch, briefing and both.

Initially, the five best posters exhibited during the International Summer School were elected, followed by the awarding of the groups on Strategy for Zambia. The best pitch/presentation category went to group 5, which presented hybrid approach scenarios that included green, inclusive and flexible, presenting the project in short-, mid- and long-term. The best briefing category went to group 3 who presented the scenarios: “Human-centric, welfare approach – rural development via PV mini-grids and biomass to energy” and “Industrial diversification – green economy growth and decent employment”. Finally, the category of best briefing and best presentation/pitch went to group 7, which presented the scenarios entitled: “Solar Powered Rural Zambia” and “Biomass for the Masses”. It was five days of much-shared knowledge, lectures, visits, networking and brainstorming. The knowledge and experience shared and acquired during those days were invaluable. Thank you to all involved.