Scientists lift the veil on sub-seabed carbon storage impact on local ecosystems

2015-07-14 09:54 by Anja Reitz

With the objective of limiting global warming to +2°C by 2050 looking increasingly out of reach and with a new UN climate conference on the horizon, the EU and its international partners are under increased pressure. All suitable solutions to reduce CO2 emissions have to be contemplated, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) — a set of technologies preventing CO2 from reaching the atmosphere by storing it in suitable underground geological formations — is one of them.

In its recent Communication for an Energy Union, the European Commission acknowledges the need for enhanced support for CCS. The technology has so far failed to develop as initially expected, largely due to high investment costs and limited incentives as a result of low carbon prices. But there is another aspect of CCS that still leaves potential investors and decision-makers in the dark: the question of leakage, especially in sensitive storage locations such as seabeds.

For the past four years, a team of EU scientists have been monitoring existing CCS installations in the North and Barents Sea to determine the likelihood of a leakage scenario and its impact on local ecosystems. ECO2 (Sub-seabed CO2 Storage: Impact on Marine Ecosystems) scientists identified possible pathways for CO2 leakage, monitored seepage sites, traced the spread of CO2 in bottom waters and studied the responses of benthic animals and plants to CO2. In early May, the project compiled these observations into a guide for the selection and monitoring of storage sites and presented it to the European Union.

Klaus Wallmann, coordinator of ECO2, discusses the project’s results and the team’s plans for further research in the field.


source: EU CORDIS / Record Number: 123219 / Last updated on: 2015-06-24

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