Assessing European Capacity for Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide    

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Thomas Vangkilde-Pedersen
GEUS Denmark
+45 3814 2714

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5. Potential impact

5.1. Competitiveness

The majority of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions stem from power generation, heavy industries and transport. European power companies and their suppliers are among the most efficient in the world. Considerable RTD efforts are ongoing in the areas of developing the energy systems of the future: clean power generation, transport systems, fuels cells, hydrogen production etc. Much of this development would need to rely on the development of cheap and efficient CO2 capture and storage methods – as society for several decades to come still would rely heavily on fossil fuels.

It is imperative for Europe to develop and deploy the full range of technologies making up CCS, including the geological storage assessment methods to be developed in the GeoCapacity project. If Europe is to fulfil the Kyoto obligations and subsequently be able to carry out the much deeper emission reductions needed, domestic dominance is a must. This would also provide export opportunities, particularly to some of the rapidly evolving economies, such as China, India and Brazil.

5.2. Innovation

The proposed project will, while refining methods previously devised, cover very large, new territories (14 new countries and reviews of 4 other countries) both with respect to CO2 emission and populations. It will also cover very large new areas of diverse geology.

The result of the proposed work will also include the results and updates of previous work (GESTCO, IEA Cost Curve Study, Vattenfall’s Sweden study etc). This means that the final product will include a very high European coverage – something which has not been achieved before.

The project will comprise very strong innovative development on the following topics (see also Section 5.6. Contribution to standards):

  • GIS-based inventoring & mapping of CO2 emmissions and geological storage locations

  • Building professional standards for assessment of geological storage capacity

  • Defining technical criteria for selection geological storage sites

  • Further development and improvement of a sophisticated economic evaluation software (the Decision Support System – DSS)

The above innovative activities are on a high international level, and in number of cases, in leading positions.

5.3. European Added-value

The GeoCapacity project would not be possible to carry out in the national sphere. It is a project resulting from the joint European policies on Climate Change, and the subsequent joint EU Kyoto commitment of reducing average EU greenhouse gasses by 8 %. This is to be implemented through the EU Burden Sharing Agreement (see TABLE 2) and the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) which comes into force in the beginning of 2005.

The project - with its strong RTD and industry partner group - will be truly trans-European, bringing together relevant skills, national data, and other competencies (e.g. cooperative and human skills).

It is very likely that this European project will act as inspiration on the national level, and thus assist in initiating further and more detailed activities, domestically and internationally.

Involvement of partners from the new EU member states and two of the accession countries is very prominent in the project. This is a natural consequence of the geographical coverage of the project and will trough the close cooperation expected, add to the European dimension of the project.

5.4. Links to national R&D and international activities

Links have been made to national RTD activities in Italy and Switzerland as well as to the international activities of the CSLF. These links are further described in Section 1.

Informal, but rather close cooperation, has been agreed with IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, who will participate as an associate partner in the project. A more detailed description of the IEA GHG can be found in Annex A.

Why is international cooperation on CSS development so important?

China is currently responsible for slightly more than one-eighth of the world's total fossil fuel-based carbon emissions, ranking it second in the world behind the United States. China has ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol as one of the Non-Annex I Parties, which are not obligated to take quantified commitment on reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, fossil fuel-related emissions of carbon dioxide in China have increased by more than one-third from 1990 levels.

Russia currently is responsible for about 6.7% of the world's total fossil fuel-based carbon emissions, ranking it third in the world, behind the United States and China. At the 1997 Kyoto conference, Russia agreed to stabilise its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. In fact, Russian greenhouse gas emissions declined from the 1990 level and still remain significantly below that threshold.

India is currently the fifth-greatest carbon emitter in the world (behind only the United States, China, Russia, and Japan) and currently accounts for about 4.2% of the world's total fossil fuel-related carbon emissions. In the past decade alone, India's carbon emissions have increased by about 60%, and carbon emissions are forecast to grow by about 3.3% annually through 2020. However India is a non-Annex I country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and as such, is not required to reduce its carbon emissions.

Information from CSLF website, 2004

5.5. Dissemination and Exploitation Plans

The GeoCapacity project does not comprise the development of a marketable product as such, but has been designed to provides the rationale for and scientific documentation of a concept for CO2 subsurface storage. This is needed in order to show sufficient storage capacity for the concept to be viable for wide-scale application. Also it must be shown that storage can be done cost efficiently. The results of the GeoCapacity study will thus be aimed at the following three user groups:

  • Policy makers (UN, EU, national level) for setting emission prices and accepting the concept as greenhouse gas sink.

  • Power companies facing emission level regulations.

  • Potential storage operators and providers of goods and services, looking for new markets for advanced products.

Results of the study will be provided in the summary report at the completion of the project. This report will be written for non-technicians. The Decision Support System (DSS) to be further developed for economic evaluation of ‘storage – transport - emission source’ scenarios and will be made available for selected other users for evaluation of their own concepts. This includes selected CSLF members of interest to the EU. It is the intention, that these technical and other results will be able to provide a sound foundation on which the concept can be judged, and – hopefully – be found sufficiently sound to warrant wider application. Public/political acceptance is considered to be a prerequisite for further development of the concept into a marketable commodity, and WP7 will provide information within the countries involved.

5.6. Contributions to standards

The GeoCapacity project has been designed specifically to provide contributions to CCS standards within the following four areas:

Site Selection Criteria

This activity will produce the first set of technical criteria for the selection of a proper storage site. The criteria will include such site selection criteria features a s location, depth, reservoir and seal properties, well completions and abandonment quality, size and geometry of storage, injectivity & strength requirements. The criteria will be related to anticipated volumes/pressure/quality of CO2 to be stored.

The resulting set of criteria is anticipated to be a valuable contribution to future practical work and to development of future regulations in the area.

Geological Capacity Assessment Standards

A number of assessments of geological storage capacities of different countries, areas and regions are now starting to appear at international conferences, exemplified by the Greenhouse Gas Technology conference, GHGT-7, in Vancouver in September of 2004. From these presentations it is becoming increasingly clear that the quality of the work is very different, ranging from professionally unacceptable regional assessment using simple parameters over a whole sedimentary basin (what has been aptly termed ‘satellite geology’) to detailed evaluations using state-of-the-art tools. This makes it abundantly clear that, in the interest of keeping CCS work credible, standards must be defined and adapted for the proper geological assessment of storage capacity, such as it for instance is done for petroleum reserves.

The work with establishing internationally recognised standards for capacity assessments has been initiated by the CSLF and a Task Force has been charged with the work. The GeoCapacity project aims to contribute to this work, and continue the progress on these issues also in Europe. The project Manager is the EU delegate in the CSLF Capacity Standards Task Force.

GIS-based inventorying & mapping

The basic methodology for GIS-based inventorying & mapping of carbon dioxide emissions and geological storage location was developed in the GESTCO project. In the current project this method will be further developed and appield in a more overall manner, such that large coverage European mapping can be achieved. This will cover some 25 countries and is anticipated to produce work of such quality and detail that it set the standard for this type of work. The GIS database provides input for the DSS economic evaluations.

The DSS Economic Evaluation method

The Decision Support System software tool was also firstly developed in the GESTCO project, and it has already set the standards for the evaluation of site-source scenario economics. The DSS has been used for evaluation work for the IEA GHG and it has been recognised that a number of features need to be developed in to facilitate cost curves to the specifications used by the GHG. In addition, it will be the aim of the present project to enhance the facilities for multi-source and multi-sink evaluations as well as making the software much more user friendly. The DSS is arguably the most advanced such system of its kind in existence today and will be a standard setting tool also in the future, with improved user facilities.

6. Project management >>>

Project News


Presentations from the GeoCapacity closing conference are now available in the Events section.
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Project reports are available in the Publications section.
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