An ambitious international CO2 storage project to support the development of low-carbon energy and industry in southern and eastern Europe has commenced with funding from the European Union.
Headed by the French Geological Survey, BRGM, the PilotSTRATEGY research partnership combines the expertise of 16 partners from seven European countries in the field of carbon capture and storage (CCS)1. CCS is crucial to Europe’s climate ambitions, particularly for the viability of industrialised regions, and will depend on sufficient geological CO2 storage becoming available in time. The International Energy Agency has warned that CCS is not being deployed fast enough to meet the emissions reduction targets laid out in the Paris Agreement.
The CO2 Geological Pilots in Strategic Territories – PilotSTRATEGY project aims to meet this challenge by investigating geological CO2 storage sites in five regions2 identified as promising for CCS. Our research will focus on deep saline aquifers (DSA) – porous rock formations filled with brine several kilometres below ground. These aquifers are a largely untapped storage resource with the potential to store large amounts of CO2 captured from clusters of industry.
Detailed studies will be carried out on deep saline aquifers in the Paris Basin in France, the Lusitanian Basin in Portugal and the Ebro Basin in Spain. We will also develop our knowledge of CO2 storage options in West Macedonia in Greece and Upper Silesia in Poland.
Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme 3, PilotSTRATEGY builds on research carried out by STRATEGY CCUS, another Horizon 2020 project led by BRGM. STRATEGY CCUS is producing local carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) development plans and business models for eight regions, including the five in PilotSTRATEGY. STRATEGY CCUS has identified storage capacity as the most uncertain factor in long-term implementation planning, hence the need for PilotSTRATEGY.
Project coordinator Dr Fernanda M L Veloso of BRGM said: “PilotSTRATEGY is one of the first steps to develop further the socio-economic and environmental-based scenarios being elaborated in STRATEGY CCUS. After making an inventory of the technical aspects involved in development of the CCUS chain, we identified storage capacity estimates as the most uncertain factor for long-term scenario implementation.
“Indeed, there is an urgent need to characterise and better estimate geological storage resources in Europe. PilotSTRATEGY will address this in southern and eastern Europe.”
A five-year €10m project, PilotSTRATEGY will provide pre-FEED4 studies to build storage pilots in the Paris, Lusitanian and Ebro Basins, helping develop confidence in CCS by supporting safe and effective operations. Among other things, the studies will produce the legal documentation which projects need to apply for permits.
PilotSTRATEGY will assess factors such as a storage site’s integrity, capacity, hydrodynamics and monitoring options and undertake research into stakeholder engagement. The latter will include an evaluation of factors that affect social acceptance of CCS/CCUS and promote awareness of the role these technologies could play in achieving a just and carbon-neutral energy transition.
Drawing on the regional stakeholder committees established in STRATEGY CCUS, we will consult with local, regional and national partners and invite them to contribute to the design and implementation of each pilot project.
“One of the expected outcomes of PilotSTRATEGY is to identify storage sites where the dialogue with regional and national stakeholders and with citizens is positive. This can then support the Final Investment Decision (FID) for a CCUS pilot in their region,” said Dr Veloso.
PilotSTRATEGY brings together European leaders in CCS/CCUS research 5, nine of which were also involved in STRATEGY CCUS, with leading energy companies.
“Characterisation of geological resources for CO2 storage is a transdisciplinary research area requiring technical, economic, policy and social sciences. Our team has key institutions which will support, guide and lead our regional and national activities across all disciplines,” said Dr Veloso.
The PilotSTRATEGY website, which will include further information about the project, will be launched in September.
Dr Fernanda M L Veloso