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Research project

Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage (STEMM-CCS)

Project overview

Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) is an important strategy in mitigating anthropogenic CO2 emissions. All credible climate change scenario models indicate that CCS will be essential to meeting the internationally agreed targets set by the UNFCCC Paris Agreement in 2015, which aims to limit global warming to 2º C relative to pre-industrial levels. The European Union’s commitment to the Paris Agreement involves reducing carbon emissions by 85-95% by 2050, with the greater ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC. The EU’s “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package, published in 2019, clearly identifies CCS as a critical step towards achieving a climate-neutral economy.
The aim of CCS is to capture CO2 from large emission sources, such as power stations and industrial facilities, transport it to a storage site and permanently lock it away so that it cannot be released into the atmosphere. CCS storage sites are usually geological formations deep underground, either onshore or offshore.

The Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage (STEMM-CCS) project was funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme to address the current knowledge and capability gaps in approaches, methodologies and technology required for the effective environmental monitoring of offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites. Drawing on a broad range of expertise from researchers in 14 institutions, including Shell as the principal industry partner, the project undertook extensive research into a range of CCS-relevant issues including: the establishment of accurate environmental baselines; better understanding of fluid flow pathways in the sub-seafloor and their implications for reservoir integrity; methodologies for detecting, tracing and quantifying CO2 leakage in the marine environment, and the development and testing of new technologies to enable cost-effective monitoring of marine CCS operations.

Central to the project was the STEMM-CCS controlled release experiment – the first sub-seafloor release of CO2 to be carried out under real life conditions. Implemented at a site near the Goldeneye platform in the North Sea, this experiment successfully simulated a CO2 reservoir leak scenario and demonstrated that the leak could be successfully detected and quantified using the range of instruments, tools and techniques developed during the project.

In summary, STEMM-CCS has successfully developed and tested a robust methodology for establishing environmental and ecological baselines under ‘real life’ conditions. It has developed a suite of cost-effective tools to identify, detect and quantify CO2 leakage from a sub-seafloor CCS reservoir, including an assessment of the utility of chemical tracers in the marine environment. Results have enabled the modelling and assessments of the local, regional and wider impacts of different reservoir CO2 leak scenarios, including the potential role that fluid pathways in the shallow subsurface may play in reservoir integrity, and a decision support tool has been developed to assist operators in monitoring, mitigation and remediation actions. STEMM-CCS has delivered best practice for selection and operation of offshore CCS sites, and results have been shared with industrial and regulatory stakeholders in order to help increase confidence in the physical security of CCS, and to support the European Union’s progress towards a carbon neutral society.

Staff

Lead researcher

Professor Jonathan Bull

Professor in Ocean & Earth Science

Research interests

  • Fluid Flow and Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Monitoring, Measurement and Verification
  • Marine Geophysics
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Other researchers

Professor Paul White

Prof of Statistical Signal Processing

Research interests

  • Paul has research interests which include signal processing, underwater acoustics and bioacoustics (the way animals, especially marine mammals, use sound). He is primarily concerned with developing tools to assist in the computer-aided analysis of underwater sounds and understanding the role of those sounds in the marine environment.
  • Acoustics, in the form of sonar, is an important tool for the exploration of the marine environment. It is used by the seismic industry to locate oil and gas reserves, by the military to detect objects, by oceanographers to make measurements and by marine mammals to survive.
  • Man-made underwater acoustic systems rely upon computers to process the data coming from sensors to interpret the environment. The processing methods within the computer systems are a critical component often defining the overall success of the instrument.
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Professor Tim Minshull

Professor in Ocean & Earth Science

Research interests

  • Continental breakup and the onset of seafloor spreading
  • Methane hydrate beneath the seafloor and its role in the Earth system
  • Exploration geophysics: seismic and electromagnetic imaging
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Professor Timothy Leighton FRS FREng FMedSci ScD

Professor of Ultrasonics
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Professor Juerg Matter

Professor of Geoengineering&Carbon Manag
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Professor Rachael James

Professor of Geochemistry

Research interests

  • Enhanced rock weathering and other techniques for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Novel isotopic signatures of biogeochemical cycling, including iron, chromium, lithium and magnesium, and the response of biogeochemcal cycles to global environmental change
  • Exploration for new sources of metals and elements critical for emerging green technologies, including lithium and the rare earth elements
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Professor Thomas Gernon

Professorial Fellow (Research)

Research interests

  • See personal website: https://www.thomasgernon.co.uk/
  • Solid Earth drivers of Earth's climate state;
  • Earth surface processes;
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Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs

Douglas Connelly, Jonathan Bull, Anita Flohr, Dirk Koopmans, Jerry Blackford, Paul White, Rachael James, Chris Pearce, Anna lichtschlag, Eric Achterberg, Dirk de Beer, Ben Roche, Jianghui Li, Kevin Saw, G Alendal, H Alvesen, R Brown, Sergei Borisov, Christoph Bottner, Pierre Cazenave, Baixin Chen, A Dale, Marcella Dean, Marius Dewar, M Esposito, J Gros, R Hanz, Matthias Haeckel, Brett Hosking, veerle Huvenne, Jens Karstens, Tim Le Bas, Timothy Leighton, Peter Linke, S Loucaides, Juerg Matter, S Monk, Matthew Mowlem, A Oleynik, A Omar, Kate Peel, Giuseppe Provenzano, U Saleem, Mark Schmidt, Bettina Schramm, S Sommer, James Strong, Ismael Falcon Suarez, B Ungerboeck , Steve Widdicombe, H Wright & E Yakushev, 2022, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 166
Type: article
Adam Robinson, Gaye Bayrakci, Calum Macdonald, Timothy Minshull, Jonathan Bull, Mark Chapman, Timothy Henstock & Ben Callow, 2022, Geophysical Journal International, 231(2), 1164-1195
Type: article
Marius Dewar, Umer Saleem, Anita Flohr, Allison Schaap, James Strong, Jianghui Li, Ben Roche, Jonathan Bull, Baixin Chen & Jerry Blackford, 2021, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 110
Type: article
Ben Callow, Jonathan Bull, Giuseppe Provenzano, Christoph Böttner, Hamza Birinci, Adam Robinson, Timothy Henstock, Timothy Minshull, Gaye Bayrakci, Anna Lichtschlag, Ben Roche, Naima, Karolina Yilo, Romina Gehrmann, Jens Karstens, Ismael Himar Falcon-Suarez & Christian Berndt, 2021, Marine and Petroleum Geology, 133(105301)
Type: article