The Energy Technologies Institute has launched a project which could see the UK as the first country with a comprehensive assessment of national CO2 storage capacity.
The project costing in excess of GBP3.5 million, will carry out a review of potential sites suitable for storing CO2 offshore and help to answer the question of exactly how much storage capacity is practically available in the UK.
The UK is potentially well served with offshore CO2 storage capacity in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline formations and, although various estimates have been made of the total amount available, those figures vary widely.
Obtaining a more accurate estimate of storage capacity will enable the Government, CO2 emitters, storage operators and infrastructure and technology developers to make more informed choices on the realistic extent and roll out of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the UK.
The United Kingdom CO2 Storage Appraisal Project (UKSAP) is led by Senergy Alternative Energy Ltd and also involves technical contributions from the British Geological Survey, the Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage (University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University), Durham University, GeoPressure Technology Ltd, Geospatial Research Ltd, Imperial College London, RPS Energy and Element Energy Ltd. It will also draw strongly on the expertise of the ETI Members, particularly those with offshore oil and gas experience.
ETI Chief Executive David Clarke said: "The availability of sufficient high-quality storage capacity is crucial to the large scale roll-out of CCS in the UK.
"Estimates of the amount of capacity available vary widely so this will provide a comprehensive picture of all potential UK offshore storage areas.
"This project aims to provide a more accurate picture of how much storage space is practically available.
"Fossil fuels will remain an important source of energy and coal is a cheap and relatively secure fuel so we have to find a way of using those fossil fuel plants and capturing the CO2 and storing it somewhere.
"CCS is a complex challenge and requires us to demonstrate a whole new aspect of UK energy operations in the next 10 years. This will cover CO2 capture at power stations, pipelines to offshore stores and injection into underground reservoirs -- effectively the reverse of our existing gas to power infrastructure that we have developed.
"We have to move quickly in a focused way to do this and the ETI storage appraisal project is a key element in this."
Nial McCollam, Managing Director, Senergy Alternative Energy added:
"Senergy Alternative Energy is delighted to be coordinating this project on behalf of the ETI, bringing together the UK's abundance of CO2 skills and expertise. Senergy has been involved in over forty CO2 storage projects internationally, but this is the first program we're aware of that has set the ambition of quantifying the useable storage capacity for an entire nation.
"Of course this is exactly the sort of analysis that will allow policy makers and industry to move forward with greater confidence to ensure the UK effectively pursues and implements large scale CO2 storage. CCS may not be a silver bullet, but it is likely to be one of the key technologies which enable society to address the complex challenge of sustaining clean, affordable and secure energy supplies while addressing the looming issue of climate change."
The project started in October and will be completed by March 2011. It will complement planned activities around the assessment of sites for CCS demonstration projects in the short to medium term by providing a picture of the long term UK capacity.
The ETI's CCS strategy focuses on the most impactful technology developments and a number of areas have been identified. These include next generation CO2 capture systems, network modelling, storage appraisal and measurement and monitoring and verification (MMV). Of these, storage is increasingly recognized globally as the critical uncertainty and therefore a natural starting point for the ETI's program.
The Energy Technologies Institute is a UK based company formed from global industries and the UK Government. The ETI brings together projects and partnerships that create affordable, reliable, clean energy for heat, power and transport.
The ETI's six private members are BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell. The UK Government has committed to match support for four further Members. The ETI's public funds are received from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills through the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). These organizations, together with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are engaged directly in the ETI's strategy and program development .