Insights and Commentaries

Insights and Commentaries

A review of the CO2GeoNet 10th Annual Forum

15th May 2015

Topic(s): Carbon capture, law and regulation, Policy, Public engagement, use and storage (CCUS)

CO2GeoNet, the European network on the geological storage of CO2 held their 10th Annual Open Forum "CO2 storage - the cornerstone of our low carbon future” from 11-12th May 2015, in San Servolo, Italy. In this Insight Benjamin Court, Global CCS Institute Senior Adviser - Storage for Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMEA) reports on the conference and implications for the future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Europe.

CO2GeoNet was originally launched in 2004 under the European Commission (EC) research program as a Network of Excellence to promote research integration within the scientific community and help enable the implementation of CO2 geological storage. Following the successful conclusion of the EC project, the participants (26 partners from 19 European countries, ranging from national geological surveys and research institutes, through to universities and associated “spin out” research companies) launched a non-profit scientific association to continue to the networking accomplished under the EC's contract. CO2GeoNet is an associate of the Global CCS Institute. 

The program and presentations of the Open Forum are available at

CO2GeoNet Annual Forum 2015

CO2GeoNet's 10th Annual Open Forum "CO2 storage - the cornerstone of our low carbon future” was sponsored by the Institute, in partnership with the European Union (EU) and US Department of Energy (DoE). The two day event considered a wide range of issues, including CCS policy, business case, research and development (R&D) in addition to lessons learnt and the latest advancements in CO2 geological storage science and technology.

The conference opened with a session examining the key policy issues faced by the European CCS community. The Institute’s Andy Purvis presented a global overview of CCS developments. While noting the challenges still faced by CCS supporters in Europe, he drew attention to the reality of CCS across the world, and discussed the importance of 2015/16 as a “Year of CCS Action”. This action included looking ahead to the launch of the Quest, Decatur, Uthmaniyah and Abu Dhabi CCS projects, anticipating final investment decisions (FIDs) in Europe (White Rose, Peterhead, and hopefully ROAD). Andy also observed that there are grounds for cautious optimism in Europe, with a number of promising developments including:

  • a commissioner for Climate Action & Energy showing a real interest in CCS
  • initiatives underway at the European Parliament
  • opportunities for power and industrial applications to have access to the Innovation Fund and the European Fund for Strategic Investments
  • a number of policy initiatives by all three EU Institutions endorsing CCS, including;
    • the Energy Union Strategy mention of CCS as critical to reach the 2050 climate objective cost effectively
    • the Parliament's report on the European Energy Security Strategy reiterating the importance to deploy favourable conditions for CCS project deployment

Finally Andy signalled the importance of other international events including a number of significant ministerial meetings on the road to the critical international climate change discussions at the Paris conference of the parties (COP) later this year.

A wide ranging discussion

Other speakers from organisations such as the EC, United Kingdom Department of Energy and Climate Change (UK DECC) and US Department of Energy (DoE) described policies in place in their regions to drive the deployment of CCS. Further sessions examined what is needed to develop the business case for CCS, and the role of the research community in supporting the implementation of CCS. While all speakers agreed that the case for CCS is urgent, and in particular that there is a pressing need to develop and characterise storage resources, there was a healthy debate between the perspectives of speakers, some of whom argued for increasing intervention in the market to counter policy disparity between clean energy solutions, while others would prefer to see the emissions trading scheme (ETS) as Europe’s sole instrument.

In practice, given the complementary measures that are in place across the EU and look unlikely to be rescinded, calling for a return to pure market mechanisms appears an interesting but ultimately somewhat academic discussion. The real issue is how transitional support measures for CCS can be effectively put in place by 2020 to allow projects to progress to the Final Investment Decision and how policy parity between CCS and other clean energy solutions can be achieved. Successful deployment of the contract for difference (CFD) approach being developed and deployed in the UK is increasingly looking like best practice.

Making the case for CCS

Global CCS Institute Director Claude Mandil makes a strong case for CCS Image: supplied

The second day of the forum opened with a keynote from Claude Mandil, a Director of the Institute and former Executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Drawing from his own experience and a broad range of sources including the IEA, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and European Monetary Fund (EMF), Mr Mandil directly addressed a selection of international CCS issues. Major issues include:

  • the role of CCS as a cost effective mitigation option, highlighting underlying trends in fossil fuel use
  • the emerging appreciation of the potentially vital role of bio-CCS, and
  • the role of carbon pricing in driving investment in CCS.

Later presenters delivered European and North American perspectives based on 20 plus years of CCS industrial scale storage experiences on issues such as:

  • the performance of existing injection and storage facilities
  • monitoring measurement and verification (MMV), and
  • public outreach and engagement issues.

International knowledge sharing

Learning from Europe’s active large scale CCS projects has been significant and is well understood. Therefore the participation of a significant number of North American speakers added a new dimension to the event by clearly demonstrating the value of knowledge sharing between regions. Their commercial scale CO2 injection experience and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations provided welcome practical insights on issues such as MMV and injection practices.

Richard Adamson of the Canadian CMC Research Institute.

Over ten years, the CO2GeoNet Open Forum has consolidated its position as one of Europe’s "must attend" storage events, and the association is actively seeking to engage with and support the wider CCS community, for example through their engagement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and International Standards Organisation (ISO) processes. A community that began as a group of academics has succeeded in creating a vibrant association that can play a critical role linking academia and practitioners and in providing a constructive and credible scientific view of CCS storage issues.

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