By Andy Martin, Chief Commercial Officer, Verlume

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as a key facilitator to reducing industrial carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. In the offshore environment, the technology can capture high concentrations of CO₂ for underground storage in naturally occurring storage areas such as aquifers or within existing infrastructure previously built for offshore energy activities. By capturing the greenhouse gas instead of it being released into the atmosphere, CCS will therefore become a critical part of reducing worldwide emissions.

Global and Local Action

The first cross-border, opensource CO₂ transport and storage infrastructure network is already in progress with collaboration between Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies as part of the Northern Lights project offshore Norway. With an annual CO₂ capacity of up to 1.5 million tonnes, phase 1 of the project is set to be completed in 2024.

Also in Scandinavia, Denmark awarded its first CCS licences in February to Wintershall Dea, INEOS Energy and TotalEnergies.

Within the United Kingdom, a similar licencing round saw 26 bids submitted in 2022 to the North Sea Transition Authority. Through this licencing round, the first injection of CO₂ is predicted to take place in 2027. The UK Government has also handed out separate funding to projects such the Northern Endurance and the East Coast Cluster, as well as Hynet North West.

In Scotland, the Acorn project (a joint venture between Storegga, Shell UK, Harbour Energy and North Sea Midstream Partners) could have significant potential for the north east of Scotland’s decarbonisation efforts.

Opportunity for Existing Skills and Technology

As with many elements of the energy transition, skills transfer will be a vital to make change possible at pace. Since much of the infrastructure required for CCS is underwater-based, there is a significant opportunity for knowledge flexing from the subsea oil and gas market. Similar infrastructure, from injection trees, pipelines, wellheads and control systems, will mean that experience transfer from this market will be fundamental.

For CCS infrastructure to operate reliability with a focus on operational emissions, there will be the requirement for remote and zero carbon power. With most of the current CCS projects set to be located far from shore at distances over 100 kilometres, I do not believe that it will be economical to deliver kW-scale power from shore via umbilical cables.

An economical solution would be Verlume’s Halo system. The seafloor battery energy storage system has been designed and optimised for use in harsh, deepwater environments to provide energy security, with low carbon power through integration with any type of renewable energy device such as wave energy converter, tidal turbine or solar array. This also helps to overcome the challenges of renewable intermittency.

Another important factor to consider is the requirement for long-term monitoring of CCS sites. Power capabilities will be required here, as well as real-time data and communications. Halo can enable wide area monitoring through remote, autonomous or semi-autonomous subsea inspection of lengthy pipelines, umbilicals, and cables through an integrated docking station for a resident autonomous underwater vehicle.

Operational intelligence is provided through a central node for data processing, creating a network of wireless sensors that are configured to create a subsea internet of things. Within Halo, there is an integrated intelligent energy management system known as Axonn which is capable of resource and yield analysis, assessment of energy resource at a project location to determine the optimum power generation system, as well as capacity analysis.

We are enthusiastic to engage with CCS project developers to discuss how Halo can act as an enabler to allow CCS to be utilised to its full potential as a key player in the energy transition.