Basics of Carbon Capture and Storage: a Course for Geologists, Geological Regulators, Policy Makers and Investors

Course Description

This course is for geologists, environmental scientists, and geological regulators, policy makers and investors who are interested in carbon capture and storage. The course will cover: the role of CCS within decarbonisation as an aspect of earth system science; why CCS is necessary; how CO2 is captured in industrial processes and how it can be used industrially; the factors affecting geological storage; how CO2 stores are monitored for leakage; how CCS will be regulated; how CCS will pay for itself; and the social licence for CCS. The course will be delivered in simple non-technical language suitable for non-specialists.

The course I propose satisfies a part of the market that is not currently catered for – the wider science, risks, financing, planning and social licence aspects of CCS. These are issues that are as important as the technical issues (in for example reservoir engineering), in the sense that any of these elements can be a show-stopper for CCS. Although the course will cover the technical geological and engineering aspects of CCS, it will also consider how these technical, policy and science aspects affect planning, regulation and financing of CCS. There are geologists, planners, investors and policy makers in companies, government natural resource and planning departments, investment banks and among NGOs that require this information from an unbiased technically well informed and up to date source. This course will provide that source.

Course Outline

Section 1. Anthropogenic influences on the geological carbon cycle

  1. The geological carbon cycle
  2. Fossil fuel use: Use of coal/gas in the future
  3. Case study Shale gas in the US

Section 2. Capturing and transporting carbon dioxide

  1. Chemical CO2 capture
  2. Transporting CO2
  3. CO2 and decarbonisation clusters including hydrogen
  4. Uses of CO2 following capture - utilisation
  5. Exercise/discussion: Examination of UK’s decarbonisation clusters (using supplied materials) and the role of CCS within each.

Section 3. Geological storage

  1. Creating an underground CO2 store
  2. Depleted fields
  3. Saline aquifers
  4. Long term behaviour of CO2
  5. Storage space calculation
  6. Exercise/discussion: Examination (using supplied materials) of geological, planning and environmental conflicts of offshore subsurface, seabed and sea surface space in a case study of a hypothetical North Sea CCS licence and development application

Question and answer and discussion on sections (1) to (3)

Section 5. Leakage and monitoring for CO2

  1. How likely is leakage Impacts of leakage
  2. Detecting leaks
  3. Regulation of storage

Section 6. The finances: How do you make CCS pay for itself?

  1. Carbon taxes, cap and trade
  2. Price of CO2 emissions

Section 7. CCS regulation

  1. Purpose of regulation
  2. Roles of regulators and owners of subsurface space

Section 8. Public views of CCS

  1. Social licence to operate
  2. Learnings from failed and successful schemes
  3. Exercise/discussion: Case study of the Barendrecht failed CCS scheme, Netherlands. What went wrong and why?

Participants’ Profile

The course is designed for geologists, geological planners and regulators, investors and policy makers in energy companies, government natural resource and planning departments, investment banks and NGOs that require information from an unbiased, technically well informed and up to date source.


No particular prior knowledge needed beyond normal levels of expertise in applied geoscience. As stated above, the course is aimed at geological generalists in energy companies, government natural resource and planning departments, investment banks and NGOs.

About the Instructor

Prof Mike Stephenson has 25 years experience in energy and geological science and research, including 8 years national level science leadership as the UK’s chief geologist (Executive Chief Scientist and Director of Science and Technology of the British Geological Survey) Mike has been providing geoscience advice to Government for almost 15 years and has an excellent overview of Government policy, industrial activity and funding landscape in applied and energy geoscience, including CCUS, shale gas, geological radioactive waste disposal and geoscience data. Mike also has expertise in positioning organisations in controversial energy topics e.g. CCUS, shale gas and nuclear. Mike was adviser to Sir Mark Walport (when UK Government Chief Scientist) on shale gas and CCUS in 2016; a member UKRI’s Energy Strategic Advisory Committee 2020 to 2021; and a Member of the UK Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Council 2021. Widely recognised as an excellent scientist, he has over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers including many on CCUS, and ~200 conference abstracts; in addition he was the Chief Editor of an Elsevier science journal for 12 years. His science excellence is recognised in his status as professor at two universities. He is Visiting Professor at the University of Nanjing, China, and the University of Milan, Italy. Mike is a well-known communicator of science and has published three single-author popular science books. His book on CCUS ‘Returning Carbon to Nature’ is widely seen as the go-to introductory text on CCUS, and reviews of the book include: ‘a tour de force’; ‘excellent review of an important topic’; and ‘conversational prose that opens the book to nontechnical readers’. Mike has also delivered high profile lectures, for example in UK Parliament, and has been a science advisor for the BBC’s ‘Horizon’ and ‘Bang Goes the Theory’ programmes.