Carbon Capture and Storage: perceptions, attitudes, and acceptability

Project Description

This project will be supervised by Professor Alberto Longo of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences/Institute for Global Food Security and by Dr Clare Bond of the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences. The start date will be 1 October 2019. 

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large emitters, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, usually an underground geological formation. CCS can be effective at mitigating the effect of fossil fuel emissions to climate change and at contributing to energy security. To halve global emissions by 2050 - a necessary target if we aim to limit global temperature rise to 2ºC – it is widely believed that CCS will need to provide 20% of global emissions reductions (Rackley, 2017). The UK government has committed to CCS in its Clean Growth Action Plan, published in November 2018. Outlined in the plan is a vision to be a global leader in CCUS (carbon capture usage and storage), and to have the capacity to deploy CCUS at scale in the 2030s. In 2019 the government will review barriers to CCUS deployment, one such barrier is public acceptability, including perception (e.g. encouraging business-as-usual reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, earthquake risk) and high investment costs that the consumer may not be willing to pay (see Zoback and Gorelick, 2012). 

The government also recognises the need for CCUS hubs and the potential for integration with hydrogen and other new low carbon technologies. The Acorn Project linking St Fergus, Aberdeenshire to North Sea subsurface storage via existing pipe lines is an early low-cost model with build-out options designed for hub development, and with the potential for integration of hydrogen. Public acceptance in areas based on existing oil and gas economies, such as Aberdeenshire, if a just-transition is obtained, may differ from other areas of the United Kingdom and Europe. Understanding public acceptability’s, and the perceptual and attitudinal reasons behind these, is critical in ensuring policy and industrial strategies that will be supported by publics to achieve climate change mitigation targets. 

This multidisciplinary project brings together expertise from geology and environmental economics to investigate society’s perceptions, attitudes, preferences, and willingness to pay for the development of safe and sound CCS. Preferences heterogeneity will be analysed considering respondents’ socio-economic characteristics, as well as regional differences. The project will further investigate how risk communication, regret, latency, and social media campaigns affect society’s preferences for the development of CCS. 

The appointed student will receive bespoke training in questionnaire design, discrete choice modelling, behavioural economics, and applied econometrics. The development of the questionnaire and modelling will be informed by training in subsurface geoscience including aspects of subsurface uncertainty and risk, and the modelling, monitoring and verification processes associated with storage of CO2 in geological formations. 

BEIS (2018). Clean Growth. The UK carbon usage and storage deployment pathway: An Action Plan. ( ) 
Rackley, S.A., 2017. Carbon capture and storage. Butterworth-Heinemann. 
Zoback, M.D. and Gorelick, S.M., 2012. Earthquake triggering and large-scale geologic storage of carbon dioxide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(26), pp.10164-10168.

Funding Notes

This studentship is available to UK and other EU nationals and provides funding for tuition fees and stipend, subject to eligibility. 

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject.


Application Procedure: 

(1) Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences; 
(2) State name of the lead supervisor as the name of proposed supervisor; 
(3) State QUADRAT DTP as intended source of funding; 
(4) State the exact project title on the application form.

Opportunity type: 
Application Deadline: