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Environmental monitoring of offshore carbon capture and storage

Part of Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

What is the aim of this project?

The Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage (STEMM-CCS) project aims to provide a robust methodology and cost-effective tools to identify, detect and quantify CO2 leakage in the unlikely event it occurs from a sub-seafloor CCS reservoir. The project develops methods for assessing how CO2 permeates through the sea floor in natural systems and in controlled release experiments. Whilst CO2 has been stored securely for decades in sub-seafloor reservoirs, the goal is ultimately to help stakeholders to continue to identify and select CCS sites with high confidence of C02 storage security.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

The aim of carbon capture and storage is to capture CO2 from large emission sources, such as power stations and industrial facilities, transport it to a storage site and permanently lock it away so that it cannot escape into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. CO2 storage sites are usually geological formations deep underground, either onshore or offshore. This project specializes in identifying CO2 storage sites under the sea floor.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • CCS projects reduce CO2 released into the atmosphere, thus reducing future impacts of global warming
  • CCS can help countries achieve carbon-neutrality

At what stage of development is this project?

The project started in October 2016 and was completed in February 2020. The Greenhouse Gas TCP served on the STEMM-CCS Stakeholder Advisory Board. Although the project has ended, the UK National Oceanography Centre team and other partners are looking for opportunities and funding to further the progress made in its four years.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • committing to net zero emissions, which would stimulate adoption of carbon capture and storage
  • monitoring the environment, mitigating climate change and understanding global ecosystems as part of national commitments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

A controlled release experiment conducted in the North Sea. Credit K. Davies


  • UK National Oceanography Centre (NOC)
  • Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
  • Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology (MPI-MM)
  • Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)
  • Seascape
  • Technische Universität Graz (TU Graz)
  • Shell
  • University of Bergen
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Tromsø
  • Associated: Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar und Meeresforschung


European Union Horizon 2020 (Grant agreement no. 654462)

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Greenhouse Gas R&D (GHG TCP)

The GHG TCP was founded in 1991. Its remit is to evaluate options and assess the progress of carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels, biomass and waste. The aim of the TCP is to help accelerate energy technology innovation by ensuring that stakeholders from both the public and private sectors share knowledge, work collaboratively and, where appropriate, pool resources to deliver integrated and cost-effective solutions.