Two weeks ago, we held the first General Assembly of the STRATEGY CCUS research consortium, an important milestone for our project and a chance to reflect on progress while planning for the year ahead.
But this was no ordinary assembly. The coronavirus crisis had most of us locked down at home, balancing family commitments with the needs of our project. We had to decide whether an online forum could achieve the same level of dissemination and discussion as a face-to-face event and provide the results needed for the next 12 months of research.
Despite the crisis, we are still engaged in studies that will help to unlock potential for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in the eight regions we have pinpointed in southern and eastern Europe.
Due to a concerted effort by our participants, some useful online apps and a remarkably stable internet connection Europe-wide, we covered our agenda in short sessions over two and a half days.
Fernanda De Mesquita Lobo Veloso, of BRGM and project coordinator, said: “It was very challenging to have one of the most important meetings of the project remotely. However, we were very happy to see the participation of all our partners and their motivation to carry on working. Everyone worked intensely to make this General Assembly a successful event.”
As well as hearing from our research teams on results to date from the six work packages, we also welcomed members of our new Advisory Board – featuring representatives from industry, academia and CCUS agencies – and our Industry Club.
Representing the main categories of industrial players in each of our regions, the Club will ensure that everyone is involved in the development phases of CCUS initiatives, smoothing pathways to future deployment.
The assembly also saw the official launch of Work Package 5, which will develop detailed plans for CCUS within different timescales depending on the region.
The team, led by France’s IPF Energies nouvelles, will now use results from work packages 2, 3 and 4 to identify scenarios with the highest likelihood of being taken forward – based on techno-economic evaluation. The involvement of our new Industry Club and regional stakeholder committees will be crucial for this process.
Our regional approach is at the heart of the project, and the time had come for selecting three to be taken forward for more detailed analysis, while still carrying out studies and scenarios for all the regions involved.
On Day 2 of the assembly, each region set out its stall of available CCUS technologies, capacities and development prospects, then we opened voting to participants. Our scientific version of Eurovision had a slightly longer response time of one week and we had a great response.
Results will be shared with our project partners tomorrow and the final selection will be discussed at our project management board at the end of this month. From the start, we have been aiming for a fair, balanced and inclusive selection process. Our online assembly provided a useful arena for this.
The final selection will be reported widely in due course, so we encourage readers to keep an eye on our website and social media channels.
Social interaction was obviously limited during our reconfigured event, but we did enable smaller break-out sessions for in-depth discussion and decision-making. And at the end of the day, it was all about keeping people safe while maintaining project momentum.
Emma ter Mors, of Leiden University and a member of our new Advisory Board, said: “I felt the online GA 2020 was very well organised and prepared, and I found the meeting very informative and interesting. A lot of relevant work has been conducted since the start of the project and I look forward to following the work moving forward.
“In face-to-face and, in particular, online meetings, it is always a bit of a challenge to have all work packages present their progress in plenary sessions, meet amongst themselves and allow for questions and discussion. Hopefully, the next meeting will be face-to-face and this allow for more time for questions and discussion.”
Image: Project partners and representatives from our Advisory Board and Industry Club join us from across Europe to take part in the online General Assembly. Photo montage: Richard Lo Bianco, SCCS