Establishing robust measurement and monitoring frameworks is a key requirement of offshore geological carbon storage projects. These monitoring frameworks are needed to provide confidence and certainty to the community regarding the use of this technology as an atmospheric CO₂ emission reduction tool.
Cost effective and practical marine monitoring for CO₂
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities require a robust measurement, monitoring and verification (MMV) programs, yet there is work still to be done to determine what to monitor and how best to monitor.
The marine environment poses particular challenges and although technologies exist which can detect CO2, they are often not well integrated, making them costly. More effort is required to determine the best configuration of equipment to reliably record and report changes in CO2 which are outside of natural variability experienced in marine environments.
We have formed a collaboration with a range of researchers in the coastal Gippsland region to test a range of monitoring and verification technologies for potential future carbon storage projects in Australia.
Technologies which have been procured through CCSNET will be tested including moorings and seabed frames (termed landers). These are equipped with a range of sensors to measure parameters such as CO2, pH, oxygen, methane, temperature and salinity. Passive acoustic sensors and underwater sonar systems (echosounders) will provide information on CO2 bubbles.
In addition to these static platforms, conventional repeat marine surveys will characterise the marine environment through acoustic methods using multibeam echo sounder and a sub bottom profiler and allow the collection of samples. These manned surveys will be augmented by surveys by an unmanned surface vehicle (saildrone) which will also be equipped with a number of sensors and trialled to determine its suitability as a monitoring tool for CCS. This will be the first time that these platforms have been deployed in Australian waters.
The data gathered will be used to calibrate 3D models which simulate water movement as well as chemical and biological processes in the near shore Gippsland environment. These simulations will allow better predictions of natural variability as develop guidance on the best configuration and suitability of sensors for CCS measurement, monitoring and verification (MMV) purposes.
Validation of MMV in the marine environment
The research program will test and validate a range of technologies and methods that CCS projects could adopt to monitor coastal environments where CO2 geological storage sites may be located. From our research, the methods for MMV of subsea CO2 storage in the marine environment are to be advanced.
We will develop:
- Modelling tools for use in designing CCS-related marine environmental monitoring plans
- A state-of-the-art networked technology toolkit that has been field tested and optimised for offshore CCS environmental monitoring
- A database of environmental signals for reference use in future monitoring
- Novel, rapid-assessment tools for biological indicators of environmental impact, based on (e)DNA approaches
The outcomes will not only be relevant to Australia but also to the international community, informing best practice for monitoring CCS in shallow marine environments globally.