The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a new project, which will study the impact of removing brine from undersea stores that could, in future, be used to store captured carbon dioxide.
The £200,000 nine-month long “Impact of Brine Production on Aquifer Storage” project will be carried out by Heriot-Watt University, a founder member of the Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) research partnership, and Element Energy. T2 Petroleum Technology and Durham University will also participate in the project.
Although the Government recently announced it was not continuing with its £1bn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) its view is that CCS can still play a potential role in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK energy system.
This latest ETI project will build on earlier CCS research work and help develop understanding of the potential CO2 stores, such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or saline aquifers, located beneath UK waters. It will also help to build confidence among future operators and investors for their operation.
An earlier ETI CCS project led to the development of the UK’s principal storage screening database, CO2Stored, which estimates the capacity and injectivity for each of an identified 550 stores off the UK’s coast. As part of the analysis one of the assumptions was that brine was not produced from the reservoir store before, during or after CO2 injection.
However, if pressure builds within a store as a result of CO2 injection then brine can potentially be removed from the store through a purpose-built well or wells to depressurise it whilst still retaining the store’s operation and integrity.
Brine management is a recognised way within the oil and gas industry of controlling reservoir pressure and fluid flow. Brine production is a feature of every oil and gas development. The removed brine could be sent to another aquifer or displaced to the sea.
Recent work published by Heriot-Watt University has showed that producing brine on the UK Continental Shelf may be beneficial to CO2 injection rates and storage. Using this experience of brine production means researchers from the university are well placed to deliver on the objectives of this project.
Paul Winstanley, ETI CCS Project Manager said “Although the UK Government is no longer pursuing its CCS demonstration competition, ETI’s view remains that CCS offers long term the lowest cost solution to meeting the UK’s legally binding 2050 climate change targets.
“One of our roles at the ETI is to help build knowledge and understanding around the challenges and benefits of CCS to ensure there is a robust evidence base in place allowing decisions to be made.
“Without early demonstration of CCS the country is placing much greater reliance on its ability to rapidly deploy the other tools it has such as renewables, new nuclear, bioenergy, low carbon heating and efficiency measures, which could double the cost of meeting UK energy and climate change targets with substantial increases in system costs appearing from 2020 onwards. The work of this project should continue to demonstrate the role CCS should play in a long-term transition to a low carbon energy system.”
The project will produce a cost-benefit analysis of brine production, using the CO2Stored database and numerical models developed in the ETI’s previous UK Storage Appraisal Project as a starting point. The analysis undertaken will cover both saline aquifers and oil and gas reservoirs.
The first stage of the project will examine any changes in injectivity and storage capacity as a result of producing brine, the additional cost of using brine wells as part of storage site operations and the potential for any savings. If the first stage shows there are potential benefits, these will then be refined and the operational implications examined further.
Professor Eric Mackay from Heriot-Watt University added “More brine than oil has been produced from North Sea oil reservoirs. This brine is cleaned to conform to environmental regulations and then either displaced to sea or reinjected into subsurface rock formations. Seawater is also injected into oil reservoirs to maintain the pressure while the oil is being produced and also maximise oil recovery. This project will investigate the potential to do the reverse – produce brine to prevent the pressure increasing during CO2 injection. This will reduce the risk of leakage, increase the amount of CO2 that individual wells can inject and increase the storage capacity of the whole system – potentially by a factor of three to four times.
“As a result, fewer wells overall will be required, and fewer sites may be required to store the same amount of CO2 – with clear benefits in terms of reduced cost of appraisal, drilling, operation and monitoring. Provided existing regulations on water quality are adhered to, the environmental footprint of CO2 injection will also be reduced.
Emrah Durusut, Element Energy’s CCS expert, added “Our recent analysis for the ETI shows that early investment in CO2 storage development is needed to unlock future unit cost reductions and strategic build-out options for CCS given long lead times for developing storage sites. Brine production has the potential to reduce the level of investment required.”
The project partners consider that, just as brine injection made the oil industry much more effective at maximising recovery, brine production will considerably improve the efficiency and security of storage for the CCS industry, and significantly reduce the cost. The project will be the most detailed investigation of the potential benefits of brine production for CCS in the UK conducted to date.
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!