Is carbon management the new energy opportunity?

If, as widely predicted, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt instigates a ‘clean energy reset’ in Wednesday’s Spring Budget by investing £20 billion in carbon capture and storage over the next two decades, it will be a huge boost to the technology as well as UK technology companies. There are similarities between this announcement and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), that US President Joe Biden signed last August that pledged $369 billion in climate and energy funding that included CCS within its scope. At the time Jarad Daniels, CEO of the Global CCS Institute said that it marked a significant milestone in the advancement of CCS.

I think we should be doing much more.

Whilst the IRA was primarily aimed at the new raft of zero carbon energy technologies such as renewable power, hydrogen and electric vehicles, it also opened the door for investment in lower-carbon technologies, that include CCS, an area where expertise built up over decades by the oil and gas sector can play a crucial role.

Some people have expressed concerns about CCS being a means to prolong the fossil fuel age, however energy affordability and security have become a central theme during the first 12 months of the Ukraine war. Cleaner energy can be quickly brought to market as CCS is an important component of blue hydrogen production where CO2 can be captured from natural gas feedstock and immediately sequestered underground.

I see CCS as a huge opportunity for fibre optic sensing and Silixa has been engaged with the sector for a long time. We are providing fibre optic services to 17 CCS sites and we served this sector as early as 2012 so it is a proven system. In CCS, we perform active seismic to image the storage area and get a better understanding of any structural faulting in the area. Then during injection, we monitor system integrity and use passive seismic, that is listening to micro seismic events that will indicate reactivation or activation of fault systems. The detection of micro seismic events can assist in meeting any regulatory requirements. We have programs underway in Canada where we are precisely doing that; just passively listening to the micro seismicity during injection of fluids into the subsurface area.

We know that global CCS capacity needs to scale from today’s 40 million tonnes per year to multiple gigatons per year by 2050 if it is to play the role required to move to a low carbon future. With the expertise and experience perfected in the unforgiving world of oil and gas we are well prepared to play our part in what appears to be a coming boom in CCS.

Glynn Williams, Silixa CEO



Carina® CarbonSecure™ — Carbon Capture and Storage Monitoring with Distributed Fibre Optic Sensing