Proposed by Dr James Verdon
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is expected to play a vital role in meeting the UK’s net zero targets over the next 30 years. CO2 is captured at large point-source emitters (fossil fuel power plants, refineries, petrochemical facilities, other large industrial plants) and transported (usually via pipelines) to storage targets in geological formations offshore in the North and Irish Seas. In order to maximise the potential of this technology, it is crucial that storage projects are delivered in an economical way. A key cost is the transport of captured CO2 from the industrial sources to the storage formations. Transport costs can be substantially mitigated by adopting a “hub and cluster” model, whereby multiple emitters are connected to a single transport corridor that delivers CO2 to an area of storage targets. Working out how we will connect industrial CO2 sources with offshore storage targets in a cost-effective manner is a key challenge for the CCS industry to solve.
To develop modelling tools that evaluate how our industrial CO2 sources should be linked to potential storage targets. We know where our major CO2 sources are presently, and how much CO2 they emit (but we might need to consider how might these change over the next 30-50 years). We have estimates for where CO2 can be stored offshore, although these estimates are subject to large uncertainties. We have estimates for how much it costs to develop CO2 transport (e.g., pipelines) in various different domains. We now need to link this information to create models for how to link our industrial CO2 emission points with potential offshore CO2 storage formations.
A GIS – Geographic Information System – (or similar) spatial modelling tool, which allows the user to visualise the UK’s CO2 emitters and storage targets, and to map these into hubs and clusters, taking into account potential barriers to transport on- and off-shore (e.g., cities, national parks, offshore wind farms), in order to work out how best to get the CO2 from the source to the sink.