IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme


CCS : Essential for our future or a Trojan horse for big oil

TD CroppedI was invited to give a talk to a local Green Party meeting who wanted a debate on CCS. This was the Stroud Green Party, Stroud being a town in the scenic Cotswold Hills known for its number of green councillors, independent spirit and high level of environmental awareness. They titled the debate “CCS – Essential for our future or a Trojan horse for big oil”. They have recently been campaigning against a waste to energy plant (now being constructed) which prompted me to get more up to speed on the interesting Norwegian work for the Klemetsrud plant in order to share with them. It was an interesting evening, friendly, but with strongly-made counter-points against CCS by a Green Party member in the debate, and a somewhat sceptical audience. I was given fair opportunity to respond to all the points made, and to the many good questions from the audience. I could see a twinkle in their eyes when they realised that fitting capture on coal and gas power plant would raise their electricity prices and so may assist renewable electricity’s competitiveness. After the lively debate had ended, I was most surprised to be informed that a ‘straw poll’ had been taken and found all asked now wanted the Green Party to support CCS. Nice feedback to receive!  Also, this is the official policy position of the UK’s Green Party, to most members surprise. Many thanks to the Stroud Green Party for an interesting and lively debate. 


BD3 CCS Integrated Facility - Technical Capabilities

MG CroppedCTCN and the International CCS Knowledge Centre delivered a webinar on the 11th April as update on the Carbon Capture and Storage facilities integrated in the Boundary Dam power plant in Canada. Emma Hannula, from CTCN, introduced Corwyn Bruce, who presented an overview of BD3 (Boundary Dam Unit 3), which is emitting 120-140 tCO2/GWh (as reference, new natural gas facilities could produce 370-400 tCO2/GWh and recent regulations in Canada limit those to 420 tCO2/GWh).

Regarding the technical design of the capture site, that comprises flue gas pre-treatment, absorption and desorption, together with heat integration and other utilities. SO2 is collected to produce sulfuric acid, which increases the process revenue, and a water wash unit operates at the top of the absorber, avoiding amine and nitrosimine emissions. Following last concerns on emissions in chemical absorption-based facilities (see IEAGHG 2018-IP05), it was interesting to know that several emissions tests are ongoing in BD3.

As we have seen in the past, (see IEAHG TR 2015-06), BD3 is a great understanding source of operation in large scale CCS facilities. During this update, we saw the evolution of absorber and desorber pressures and their relationship with ashes issues and foaming, both currently solved. Due to the character of that facility, FOAK (First of a kind), there is room for improvement on costs. 30% of CAPEX reduction can be achievable and steam cost could be severely reduced through an appropriate design. Additionally, bigger plants will reduce the CO2 avoidance costs, where modularization will be key. Smart heat integration and correct location of equipment will also be translated as higher gross power output.

Finally, Corwyn highlighted the importance of those results and their application not only to the power but also to industrial sectors. As example, cement production delivers flue gas with high CO2 concentration (see IEAGHG 2013-19). Trace compounds were concentrated during operation and that is particularly important with those acting as catalyst for degradation, what should be taken into account in industrial environments.  

As always, it was great to attend a presentation from the BD3 team. Corwyn mentioned how important is the knowledge transfer to impulse the implementation of next carbon capture plants, and translate those lessons not only to enhanced systems but also as inputs for new policies. Incentives are key and there is still a policies driver gap.

IEAGHG will be contributing to an update report to be published in a near future and we look forward to hearing more specific details at GHGT-14 (see ). IEAGHG and the International CCS Knowledge Centre are members of the CTCN network. A replay of the webinar will be available shortly ( ).


IEAHG TR 2015-06- Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage project at SaskPower's Boundary Dam Power Station (

IEAGHG 2015-IP05- International Amine Workshop organized by the Japan’s Ministry of Environment (

IEAGHG 2013-19 Deployment of CCS in the Cement Industry (


Fourth Seismic Imaging completed across the Aquistore CO2 Storage site

JC CroppedIn the latest PTRC news-letter the Saskatchewan based research organisation announced that the week of 13th – 16th March marked the fourth seismic imaging run conducted over the Aquistore site.  This technique is an integral part of the sites’s monitoring and measurement programme.  Since injection began in 2015 over 140,000 tonnes have been stored.

The underlying Deadwood Formation beneath the Aquistore extends across southern Saskatchewan and into the province of Alberta.  Its storage capacity has been estimated in gigatonnes.  For Aquistore the monitoring, measurement and verification (MMV) at the site is primarily to provide assurance of conformance with modelled predictions of CO2 migration and containment.  This includes groundwater and soil gas sampling, seismic imaging of the CO2 plume and surrounding formation, and various other deep sub-surface and near surface MMV.

During the March shoot, 400 shot points (small explosive charges) were set off during two days and the wave data collected at the surface from the 650-geophone permanent array at the site.  Other seismic measuring technologies, and fibre optic lines, were deployed down the observation and injection wells to record seismic images.  Data processing will take place over the next two months to create new images of CO2 within the reservoir.  Initial baseline seismic profiles can be compared with periodic repeat surveys to track the presence of CO2 within the designated reservoir. 

Aquistore is located near the community of Estevan, in southern Saskatchewan.  CO2 is delivered via a 2 km pipeline from the nearby Boundary Dam Power Station – the location of the world’s first commercial scale post-combustion capture of CO2 from coal fired power generation.  Although most of the 1 million tonne per year of CO2 captured from Boundary Dam is expected to be sold for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations at the Weyburn oilfield, Aquistore provides a permanent CO2 storage option within a deep saline aquifer.  It also serves as a monitoring and science project that allows PTRC to build valuable experience and demonstrate to the local community that the entire CCS chain is a safe and technically viable option at commercial scale.

PTRC, alongside many other organisations running large-scale CCS projects, regularly report technical progress, and challenges, at IEAGHG CO2 storage network meetings.  Aquistore’s achievements were last reported as part of the 12th Monitoring Network meeting in Traverse City, Michigan, in June 2017 (12th IEAGHG Monitoring Network Meeting.  2017-10).


UKCCSRC biannual meeting: Delivering the new CCS agenda

MG CroppedOnce again, the UKCCSRC has held their biannual meeting, which took place in the University of Cambridge during 26-27th March. UKCCSRC leads and coordinates a 5. 1programme of underpinning research on all aspects of CCS in support of basic science and UK government efforts on energy and climate change. This initiative receives support from the EPSRC and DECC. 

In this occasion, the main theme was the new CCS agenda and attendees had the opportunity to receive updates of projects and policies at international level. While still we saw technical presentations on capture (see Information paper), storage and CCS integration, we enjoyed the presence of an international panel from Japan, USA and the Netherlands. Speakers emphasised on the need of support from policies and regulations and the already proven CCS success from a technical perspective. Additionally, the CCS business model has been enhanced over the years and the local UK government is currently implementing several initiatives (see Information paper).

The biannual meeting also included the presence of Early Research Careers members (ERCs), who had the opportunity to exhibit their research through a poster session. In this occasion, two PhD students from Imperial College won the posters prizes: Praveen Bains for her poster “The role of CCS in the UK’s power sector decarbonisation using high spatial and temporal resolution modelling”, and Habiba Daggash for her poster “The role of negative emissions technologies in decarbonising the UK Energy system”. Congratulations to them!

UKCCSRC biannual was an excellent opportunity to interact with experts in multiple areas within the CCS chain and we look forward to attending the next one in University of Edinburgh. 

5. 2


Developing Environmental Monitoring for Offshore CO2 Storage Projects

TD CroppedThe STEMM-CCS project held its second annual meeting last week. This is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project that is developing environmental monitoring to test in-situ at a controlled release of CO2 in the seabed at the Goldeneye location in the North Sea (see IEAGHG 2017-IP14). The project is coordinated by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, with a consortium of partners representing the leading marine science organisations in the EU and Norway, including GEOMAR, PML and NIVA. IEAGHG is on the Stakeholder Advisory Board.

This second annual meeting was hosted near Barcelona to review progress over the previous year and to plan the year ahead. Despite some weather challenges affecting one of the two research cruises in 2017, great progress has been made in collecting environmental background data for the location and testing one of the bespoke landers developed by NOC with its impressive array of sensors. This data is already enabling a better understanding of the complexities and variabilities of the environmental baseline at the Goldeneye location, and enabling the development of realistic detection criteria and monitoring strategies for anomaly detection and attribution. The Goldeneye site is located at the meeting of two sea currents, which adds further variability. The project also includes characterisation of offshore chimney structures and pockmarks (linking with the UK’s CHIMNEY project) and some new seismic and topographic data has been obtained from a survey cruise for pockmarks with fluid fluxes, and from measurements on onshore examples of outcropped analogues of chimney structures. The sensors for the range of chemical and physical measurements have been developed or adapted from existing designs, including the small-scale ‘lab on a chip’ sensor package for nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, pH, alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon. Work is ongoing on the modelling of CO2 and tracer migration in the overburden. Planning is well advanced on the development of the engineering and logistics to build the release site at the seabed, and the planning of the research cruises in 2018 using UK and German research ships. The controlled release is planned for spring 2019.

The annual meeting also included a one and a half day training course on CCS for early career researchers involved in the project, for which IEAGHG provided two presentations. Ben Callow of the University of Southampton was awarded the best student poster prize for his poster on his work on the onshore chimney structures. Ben is also an alumnus of IEAGHG’s 2017 Summer School.

This is an exciting and unique project that will advance offshore environmental monitoring, specifically CO2 leakage detection, attribution and quantification, and CO2 storage site overburden characterisation.  Some of this work will be shared and discussed at the forthcoming Offshore CCS Workshop in Oslo on 3-4 May and eleven abstracts from the work have been submitted to GHGT-14.

For more information, updates and new online resources, see .


Astronauts and Climate Change

TD CroppedIt has struck me when listening to astronauts that very often their concern for the earth’s environment is much enhanced after their experiences. Perhaps because of their unique perspective from space looking back at this planet, I guess they see that this bright blue/green planet is a small oasis of life in the vastness of space.

23 02 18 Scott Kelly

This was reinforced most recently when I had the privilege of meeting US astronaut Scott Kelly in Austin Texas. He had recently spent nearly a year in the International Space Station (ISS), a record for a US astronaut, and was on a lecture-tour about it. He is known for his prolific tweets and great photos from his year on the ISS, many on climate change. One of the messages he wants to share with the public is that the atmosphere is “as thin as a contact lens on the planet…and needs to be protected”. He said he had seen the increasing effects of pollution and climate change over his 17 years of experience in space, and it was bad. He urged us to protect the planet in general and the atmosphere especially. “If we can build a space station, if we can get to the moon, then we can find solutions to Earth’s environmental problems”. “It needs international collaboration, like the International Space Station”.In this context, he was very interested to hear about CCS and IEAGHG.

Previously I had the honour of meeting another astronaut, the late Piers Sellers at COP-20 in Lima in 2014. He made his vocation in his career to work for NASA on their climate programmes, and communicated their work powerfully to UNFCCC attendees using the NASA ‘hyperwalls’ at COPs (see photo). “The stuff we breathe, there’s not much of it. It’s a very thin atmosphere. We better pay attention”.  

Astronauts make good communicators on climate change.

23 02 18 Piers Sellers 1

23 02 18 Piers Sellers


Economic Boost for CCS and CCUS in the USA

TD CroppedNews came out on 9 February that the US Budget Bill passed by congress and signed by the President into law included “FUTURE Act”. This act contains an extension to the US tax credit for CCS and CCUS, known as 45Q.

The existing version of 45Q provided a tax credit of $10 per tonne of CO2 for anthropogenic CO2 going to enhanced oil recovery, and $20 per tonne if going to straight storage. This was very useful and assisted with the economics of CCUS and CCS projects, however the total national volume was capped and this cap was potentially being reached. The new Bill removes the cap and increases the value of the tax credit, with it rising to $30 and $50 per tonne respectively. There are several conditions, including that it is for new plant that commences construction before 2024, there is a 12 year time limit on the tax credits, and the CO2 is sent to “secure” storage, which will have to be demonstrated by appropriate regulation and monitoring strategies.

The Bill, which also contains support for nuclear power (45J), was supported across the political spectrum by both Republicans and Democrats.

It is hoped that this will stimulate the business case for more CCS and CCUS projects in the USA, including potentially a revisit of Kemper project’s economics.

The 45Q Bill amendment can be seen at:

There has been much commentary on this good news, some can be seen at :


Report from UTCCS-4 – a four year review of GCCC achievements

TD CroppedThe University of Texas held their biennial conference on CCUS, UTCCS-4 on the 30-31 January. This conference combines the Texas Carbon Management Program’s amine-based capture research, the Gulf Coast Carbon Center’s applied research in storage, and the Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security program’s more fundamental research in storage.

The Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) at the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at the University of Texas has been running as an industry sponsored programme since 1998. Of particular note here was the reflection and summary on the last four years of work and results. Their programme has covered storage capacity and behaviour, fluid chemistry from deep reservoir to near-surface, unconventional EOR, monitoring methods, offshore storage, and knowledge sharing. The monitoring area’s objectives have included streamlining monitoring design for large-scale projects, testing this in commercial-scale projects (for example they monitor the CO2 injection and storage for the Port Arthur Project and Petra Nova project), extracting lessons from such large-scale projects for application to other large-scale projects, cost optimization and inputting to evolving regulatory and certification frameworks.

They have many examples of achieving their objectives, including successful monitoring tool development and commercialisation, for example with pressure-based monitoring in the above-zone interval and process-based monitoring at the near-surface. In terms of monitoring methodologies, GCCC have successfully developed and applied the ALPMI and attribution approaches (ALPMI is assessment of low probability material impacts). They have also developed a widely-applicable methodology for determining the carbon footprint of CO2-EOR, which on their case studies shows net carbon negative oil can be produced at earlier stages of a project. .

In terms of offshore CCS, the offshore storage assessments undertaken over many years by GCCC/BEG were impressive and provide very beneficial knowledge feeding into their CarbonSAFE project and their new GoMCARB project which further the assessments of storage and sources and potential project options in the Gulf of Mexico. They have just published the first CO2 storage atlas for the offshore Texas ( see ). Their experiences in offshore monitoring at Japan’s Tomakomai project using high resolution seismic and environmental techniques were described, and their planned involvement with the UK’s ACORN project announced. The GCCC has also initiated the international Offshore CCS workshop series, with CSLF and IEAGHG.

Also impressive was the knowledge sharing of all of the above by GCCC in the last four years, with 117 publications and 207 presentations. They have also hosted 19 meetings and workshops, including the GHGT-12 conference and the IEAGHG Summer School in 2014 (with the other UT teams above). New collaborations with China, Mexico and monitoring work in the Surat Basin in Australia were announced.

Plenary talks at UTCCS-4 were provided by Howard Hertzog  of MIT on the issues with CCU and negative emission technologies, and by myself on the impacts of knowledge sharing by GCCC (and IEAGHG) in the global CCS scene.

So a very impressive review of achievements by the three teams at the University of Texas, in collaboration with their industry partners and US DOE.

For more information on these programmes see , , and .


Do you enjoy a sandwich? Then you need to think about the GHG impact!!

JG CroppedThe origin of the word 'sandwich' for an item of food may have originated from a story about John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. It is said that in approximately1762, he asked for meat to be served between slices of bread to avoid interrupting a gambling game. This story may have been rumour but soon people are reputed to have started ordering “the same as Sandwich”, and the name stuck!

From that day the great British sandwich went on to establish itself as a “culinary masterpiece” that is enjoyed around the world.

Whilst enjoying a “sandwich” myself for lunch, I was surprised to read an article in the Guardian newspaper that suggested scientists had been studying the greenhouse gas emissions arising from different sandwich types. Surely a joke, but no, scientists from the University of Manchester have published their research in the peer reviewed journal of Sustainable Production and Consumption.  For those that sill doubt me follow this link:

It seems the scientists considered 40 different sandwich recipes focusing on the most popular consumer choices in the UK.  The estimated impact from ready-made sandwiches ranges from 739 g CO2 eq. for egg & cress to 1441 g CO2 eq. for the bacon, sausage & egg option. The carbon footprint of the breakfast option it seems is equivalent to driving a car for 12miles (19km) – wow!!

In contrast, the carbon footprint of the most popular homemade sandwich (ham & cheese) varies from 399–843 g CO2 eq. per sandwich, depending on the recipe. The average carbon footprint of the homemade sandwiches is half that of the ready-made equivalent with the same ingredients. Only the equivalent of driving a car 4 to 7 miles!!

The greatest contributor to the carbon footprint of both types of sandwich is the agricultural production of ingredients; for ready-made sandwiches but the preparation and retail, stages are also significant.

The good news is, if you like read-ymade sandwiches, their carbon footprint can be reduced by 50% by changing the way some ingredients are grown, recipe changes, reduction of food waste, alternative packaging and different waste management options.

So what can you understand from this research well my big takeaway message is:

“Get up earlier, make your own sandwiches from healthy options, eat the lot and don’t wrap them in packaging you will throw away after if you care about climate change” 


CSLF Ministerial in the United Arab Emirates

TD 2The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) meetings in Abu Dhabi, UAE, were held from 4-6 December and concluded with the 7th CSLF Ministerial Meeting. The CSLF is a government-to-government agreement on developing CCS, it started in 2003 and now has 25 member countries and the European Commission, and consists of a Technical Group, a Policy Group, and Ministerial meetings.

The Ministers and other heads-of-delegation agreed a Ministerial Communique “Advancing the Business Case for CCUS”. This agreed key actions to progress CCS as follows:

  • Ensure CCUS is supported as part of a suite of clean energy technologies in clean energy policies
  • Leverage the success of operational projects while emphasizing the urgency of developing new projects, noting the opportunities on industrial processes
  • Development of regional strategies to strengthen the business case, including for governments to support infrastructure onshore and offshore.
  • To explore new utilisation concepts beyond CO2-EOR.
  • Collaborative R&D on next generation CCUS technologies for power and industry, including under Mission Innovation.
  • Expand stakeholder engagement and strengthen links with other global clean energy efforts, including Mission Innovation, Clean Energy Ministerial, IEA, and the IEAGHG.
  • Increase global shared learnings and disseminating best practices from CCUS projects and strengthen coordination on R&D globally, including for offshore.
  • Continue to engage the public on CCUS.

20171206 150555As well as updates on CCUS developments for the region and globally, the Ministerial Meeting included a session on CCUS infrastructure, where John Gale presented IEAGHG work on the business models for CCUS hubs and clusters.

The CSLF Policy Group endorsed one new project as recommended by the Technical Group: the CO2CRC Otway Stage 3. Japan, on behalf of the Regulatory Task Force, presented the report and conclusions on “Practical Regulations and Permitting” based upon learnings from seven project case-studies (Japan led this Task Force and IEAGHG was one of the supporting co-authors).

The CSLF Technical Group presented an updated “2017 Technology Roadmap”. This report provides a good review of technology progress and needs (it will be summarised by IEAGHG in an Information Paper). Norway, on behalf of the Offshore CO2-EOR Task Force, presented its report and conclusions on the potential for CO2-EOR offshore and how to progress it (IEAGHG will produce an Information Paper on it also). IEAGHG were co-authors to both these reports. Updates were given from other Task Forces: BioCCS; Improved Pore-space Utilisation; and Industrial CCS. The CSLF Technical Group agreed to start a new Task Force on hydrogen and CCS, and is considering a new task force on mineralisation. IEAGHG’s work will be relevant to both of these.

The International CCS Knowledge Centre presented a review of their recent Global CCS Symposium, which had focused on the good news and positive developments and learnings from operational projects. In contrast, there was an interesting presentation by the Netherlands on lessons from the ROAD project not proceeding.

DSC 3433

IEAGHG presented an update on its activities and how its work has been used recently to inform UNFCCC at COP-23, the London Convention, and IPCC. IEAGHG also presented the outcomes of the 2nd Workshop on Offshore CO2 Storage (see IEAGHG report 2017-TR12 and earlier blog in July). This included the background of this work and how the results have been used to inform the London Convention and UNFCCC. The offshore idea was first presented to CSLF in 2013 by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas. The CSLF created an Offshore Task Force led by the US DOE, which reported at the CSLF Ministerial in 2015. This report and the two workshops on offshore subsequently hosted by the University of Texas, have stimulated new sharings between countries and new countries to be interested in CCS and for these to also use UNFCCC Technology Mechanism funds for the first time. The US DOE has now very recently announced two new projects to develop offshore CCS in the Gulf of Mexico. So overall a success story for CSLF Technical Group work being used and creating positive impacts. This good news story was included by the chair of the Technical Group in her message to the CSLF Policy Group and to the CSLF Ministerial.

IEAGHG participates directly in the CSLF through an Agreement with the CSLF Technical Group, and frequently contributes in its Task Forces.

This was a very well attended CSLF Ministerial, chaired by the new US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, with Ministers from the hosts UAE and Saudi Arabia, plus several Deputy-Ministers and senior civil servants. Compliments to the hosts, the Ministry of Energy of the United Arab Emirates for a very impressive set of CSLF meetings. Details of the Communique, the final CSLF reports, and other meeting documents can be found at  

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End of COP-23

New TD 2There will be much analysis into the details coming out of COP-23, but my short summary is as follows.

Progress was made in general in the details of the ‘rulebook’ for the Paris Agreement, but there is a lot of work still to do. As a result it is suggested there may need to be an extra UNFCCC Parties meeting before COP-24 in order to be ready at COP-24. A Decision text was produced as the high-level agreements out of COP-23, called “Fiji Momentum for Implementation”. Of note is that, as well as encouraging urgency in developing the Paris ‘rulebook’ for post 2020 implementation, it puts an emphasis on undertaking and reporting pre-2020 ambitions and funding, by implication by developed countries. In the same context, this Decision urges countries to complete ratification of the “Doha amendment” which was an extension of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020 (ie filling in the gap before the Paris Agreement starts). This Decision sets up the facilitated dialogue, now known as the “Talanoa dialogue” to be undertaken during 2018 to undertake a stocktake of pledges and progress to date to be reported at COP-24.

What is lacking from this Decision is any mention of oceans. From a scientific perspective this is disappointing given the importance and interdependence of oceans and atmosphere in climate change and impacts on oceans of CO2, and given the theme of the COP by Fiji on oceans, resulting in a great number of side-events and initiatives on oceans (including our UNFCCC Side-event). Well at least the relevant ocean science got good exposure in the COP, and hopefully this will continue.

Also of note from COP-23 was the “Powering Past Coal Alliance”. This was an agreement outside the formal UNFCCC processes by some 19 countries and several US states and Canadian provinces to phase out “traditional” coal power by 2030 in OECD/EU and by 2050 in the rest of the world. By traditional, they mean unabated. Specifically they call for no new build or funding for such unless built with operational CCS. These countries included UK, Canada, France and the Netherlands, but not heavy coal users such as USA, Germany, Poland, Australia, China and India. As I mentioned in my previous blog, there were many side-events around encouraging the move away from coal power. 

So a work-in-progress COP and we look forward to seeing more progress in the details in 2018, perhaps with an extra SBSTA meeting, and to countries not overlooking their pre-2020 ambitions as they look to their future pledges under the Paris Agreement.  COP-24 will be in Katowice, Poland.

A review of COP-23 will be provided by IEAGHG webinar soon. 


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