Researchers at the University of Aberdeen's Centre for Energy Transition will play a key role in enabling the UK's first test and demonstration projects designed to test the ability of offshore wind and carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites to co-exist on the seabed.
The University has received £250,000 in investment from The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland for Project Colocate – which will investigate viable areas on the seabed for colocation of CCS and offshore wind, helping to create a pipeline of potential test & demonstration sites for the future.
With space on the seabed limited, colocation is seen as a key factor in helping the UK meet offshore wind generation and CCS targets that are vital to the country’s net zero ambitions.
Researchers from the University will focus their investigations on the East Irish Sea and Central North Sea, both of which have been identified as having significant potential for future colocation of CCS and offshore wind.
Project Colocate is one of two complementary projects being commissioned by The Offshore Wind and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Colocation Forum ("the Forum”), which is chaired by The Crown Estate.
The other related project (Project Anemone) will establish best-practice, practical guidance for how offshore wind and CCS technologies can operate alongside each other, from construction to decommissioning.
The projects build on the Forum’s Spatial Characterisation Report, which identified areas of potential overlap for offshore wind and CCS on the seabed, and the North Sea Transition Authority’s Seismic Imaging Report which explored various options for monitoring carbon storage and offshore wind sites to help resolve possible colocation issues.
Professor John Underhill, Director of the Centre for Energy Transition and Professor of Geoscience at the University of Aberdeen said:
“Offshore wind and carbon capture and storage will play a vital role in the UK’s net zero targets so there is a pressing need for establishing a robust workflow to assess, critically evaluate and identify suitable and viable areas of the seabed for potential colocation of offshore wind and CCS.
“Project Colocate will pin-point viable seabed locations for the test and demonstration projects and propose monitoring plans for these areas that will critically assess the future potential of the seabed for the co-existence of offshore wind and CCS.
"This will help inform the work regulators are doing on marine spatial planning to maximise the potential of the seabed and support the Forum’s ambition to enable the UK’s first testing and demonstration of the viability of colocation.
“The investment we have received from The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland will enable the appointment of two full-time research associates who will work alongside other researchers as part of Project Colocate. I am delighted that the University has received this investment which is testament to our world-leading research expertise in this area.”
Adrian Topham, Chair of the OW & CCS Colocation Forum at The Crown Estate, said:
“The offshore wind and CCS capability of the UK needs to develop at a rapid rate if the country is to meet its 2050 net zero target and build electricity supply. The Crown Estate is determined to maximise the potential of the seabed by ensuring a coordinated approach to its management that enables the colocation of offshore wind and CCS infrastructure. This is in keeping with The Crown Estate’s long-term and holistic approach to managing the land and seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland in a way that supports net zero and energy security, whilst protecting the natural environment.
“Project Colocate will identify areas of the seabed that are potentially viable for colocation, whilst Project Anemone will help uncover how future practical demonstration might proceed. Together, both projects will help pave the way for test and demonstration, as well as facilitating greater collaboration and understanding between these two vital sectors.”
Tom Mallows, Head of Offshore Development for Emerging Technologies and Infrastructure, at Crown Estate Scotland, said:
“Our ScotWind Leasing round, which saw the successful awarding of 20 projects with a combined intended installed capacity of 27.6GW, and our most recent offshore wind leasing round INTOG (Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas), demonstrates the huge clean energy opportunity which offshore wind offers. It also highlights how important Project Colocate will be in helping establish a clear set of measures and tools to help ensure CCS is provided for in a considered and complementary way alongside offshore wind as an essential component of the transition to a decarbonised economy.
“As co-sponsors of Project Colocate, we look forward to supporting CCS and offshore wind developers to work together in a way that optimises the use of our seabed’s vital resources in helping achieve net-zero.”