A study on carbon dioxide storage has confirmed that the UK would be an ideal location to store carbon emissions from across Europe. Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) says this is welcome news after lasts month Paris Agreement, which included a deal to keep global warming below two degrees, was signed by 177 countries.
The ambitious goal from the Paris Agreement will require substantial efforts to decarbonise the world’s economies. The capture and storage of carbon emissions from power, heat, transport and industry will therefore be an essential part of climate action.
The findings from the £2.5 million CO2 storage appraisal study, carried out for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) by Pale Blue Dot and its project partners, are the latest in a sequence of studies that point to the optimal character of North Sea geology for this task.
The now depleted oil and gas fields around the UK have provided secure isolation for hydrocarbons for millennia. Alongside offshore salt-water aquifers, these sites can now be put to profitable use for storing anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
The study examined five typical configurations of offshore UK geology: the Captain Sandstone (the subject of the SCCS joint industry project, CO2MultiStore), the Forties Sandstone in the Central North Sea, the Hamilton depleted gas field beneath the Irish Sea, the Viking gas field and 44/26 sandstone dome sites beneath the Southern North Sea.
For the first time these have been comprehensively analysed using data from offshore oil and gas exploration and production. The results are very encouraging and provide commercial-quality costing and design estimates for offshore engineering, which confirm the security and tonnages of UK storage capacity compiled by SCCS in 2009. Each site differs in its individual characteristics but all five are capable of securely storing very large amounts of CO2 from power and industry projects across the UK.
In 2009, SCCS undertook the first whole assessment of the UK’s CO2 storage asset. This shone a light on the potential to store hundreds of years of the UK’s carbon emissions, which could also underpin a £5 billion-per-year industry for dealing with Europe’s emissions.
This capacity was later confirmed by the UK Storage Appraisal Project (UKSAP), a £4m collaboration of academia and industry also funded by the ETI. Two further SCCS studies, published in 2009 and 2011 (Progressing Scotland’s CO2 storage opportunities), led to results from the SCCS CO2MultiStore joint industry project, which provided commercial confidence in the North Sea’s CO2 storage asset and to today’s published report.
So how do today’s findings translate into delivering a UK CCS industry? The project identified a very large UK CO2 storage resource potential, estimated at 78 gigatonnes, of which 15 per cent could serve the UK for 100 years. Pale Blue Dot’s analysis shows an average levelised cost for transport and storage of around £15 per tonne of CO2 and a range of between £11 and £18 per tonne. Calculated in the same way as for electricity generation by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, this adds just £7.50 per megawatt hour (MWhr) to the levelised cost of power from gas (current cost around £50-70 / MWhr). This is a very low cost.
This cost can be further reduced if efficiencies in subsurface engineering are used to ensure that injected CO2 fully pervades the pore space of the reservoir sandstone. And identifying “clusters” of geographically close offshore sites can encourage a shared use of large diameter pipelines by emitters, which reduces the cost per tonne of CO2 by a further 10-30 per cent.
Prof Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said: “I congratulate Pale Blue Dot and their partners on this excellent study, and I was pleased to be able to provide technical advice and oversight during the project.
“Their work shows that affordable, well-engineered CO2 storage is within reach. With huge progress also being made in CO2 capture engineering, from innovations both in the UK and other countries, it is probable that the cost of capturing CO2 will tumble by anything from 20 to 90 per cent in the next five years.
“Coupled with effective and viable storage, this will bring climate clean-up within viable price ranges for applications as diverse as electricity generation, heat supply, transport and particularly the process industries.”
Dr Gillian Pickup, of Heriot-Watt University, who also provided advice to the project, said: “Firstly, the fact that this project has been completed despite the UK Government pulling £1 billion for the first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects is reassuring. It demonstrates that many people are determined that CCS should go ahead.
“The project aims were to identify the next phase of sites for CO2 storage offshore UK. This study shows that geoscientists and engineers in the UK are gaining more experience at evaluating potential sites. Also, it is a good example of how the UK’s CO2 storage atlas – CO2Stored – is being used.”
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!