Mitigation and adaption to climate change are fundamental to our research and collaboration with industry. Our work supports global initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
We are working with a range of industry partners in the development of crucial technologies such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and biochar to deliver economy-wide decarbonisation for the UK and global industry.
You can find out key information by clicking on each heading below:
Our internationally renowned research on CCS and negative emissions has underpinned the development of crucial technologies needed to deliver economy-wide decarbonisation for the UK and global industry.
UK Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Professor Haszeldine was co-author of the UK Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) report.
The BEIS report was used to inform key recommendations on the UK Government's strategic investment into CCS infrastructure, having a significant impact on the future of industry.
Specifically, this involves separating investment in CO2 capture and CO2 transportation and storage. It also involved setting up clusters of actors sharing infrastructure with the common goal of decarbonising industry, producing low-carbon hydrogen and enabling negative emissions as a key part of the lowest cost route to achieving the UK's decarbonisation targets.
Acorn CCS project
Our work with the Acorn project, the UK's leading CCS cluster, and their CO2SAPLING Transport Infrastructure Project led to three cycles of sustained investment of GBP15,000,000 by Governments in the UK, Scotland, and EU alongside commercial partners.
Acorn is an ambitious programme designed to tackle climate change by dealing with industrial CO2 emissions and other 'hard to decarbonise' sectors. It is the UK's most advanced CCS technology cluster, underpinning the delivery of UK and European industry decarbonisation and low carbon hydrogen fuel.
Acorn aims to deliver a carbon capture and storage programme for Scotland by 2024 and can be scaled-up to support other carbon reduction projects across the UK and Europe in the 2020s. The project will also enable hydrogen to be used more widely as a source of clean energy. These technologies will be crucial if Scotland is to meet its carbon net-zero target by 2045 and the UK by 2050, as informed by the UK Government and the UN Paris Agreement.
Acorn CCS is led by the company Pale Blue Dot Energy, with funding and support from industry partners, the UK and Scottish Governments, and the European Union. It is strategically located in the North East of Scotland with the aim to repurpose oil and gas industry expertise and infrastructure in the North-East of Scotland to the decarbonisation agenda. Its objective is to repurpose legacy oil and gas pipeline and wells to CO2 storage rather than undertake costly decommissioning.
Work by our CCS researchers, led by Professor Haszeldine, has established the huge and strategic capacity of the North Sea subsurface to store CO2 securely. This enables the North Sea oil and gas expertise and engineered infrastructures to transfer into a major global CCS industry.
Visit the Acorn project website
In November 2019, building out from the Acorn project, Professor Haszeldine and the Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage helped establish the North East Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage alliance (NECCUS).
NECCUS is uniquely combining industry actors in collaboration for CCS in Scotland to achieve practical construction and operation by 2024. It comprises at least 33 industries and government agencies and research institutions as the delivery vehicle for CCS for the UK industry, funded by GBP300,000 from the Scottish Government.
We have instigated the world's first research programme to develop underground storage of hydrogen.
This technology has the potential to transform the capabilities of renewable energy, which has far-reaching implications for industry and our planet.
Hydrogen can be generated by electricity when wind is plentiful and stored underground, to be used as fuel at times when there is little wind.
Through our HyStorPor project, we are working with a range of industry partners on the large-scale geological storage of energy in the form of hydrogen. This is significant as heating our buildings – both domestic and commercial – is currently the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, exceeding those for electricity generation. However, the underground storage of hydrogen in porous rocks has not yet been demonstrated commercially.
Our HyStorPor project is addressing the questions that require answers before commercial trials can begin. Through state-of-the-art laboratory experiments, our team will explore the geological underground storage of hydrogen in geographically-widespread porous rocks.
We are leading the development of biochar, a carbon-negative technology that converts captured CO2 into charcoal, which can be placed back into soils.
Biochar is a specially designed charcoal which offers a bright future for organic resource management, soil improvement and energy production.
It contains a high proportion of extremely stable carbon, and so sustainable production of biochar can be a significant, viable Negative Emissions Technology for mitigating human-induced climate change.
Our School hosts the UK Biochar Research Centre, which leads strategic, multidisciplinary investigations of biochar and provides a range of research and advice to relevant government bodies and companies.
The Centre is also a partner in the Scottish Biofuel Programme. Our partnership means that UKBRC can provide free initial advice, expertise to SMEs in Scotland with the potential to integrate biochar with energy capture from pyrolysis and coupled technologies.
You can find out more on our work with biochar on the UK Biochar Research Centre website:
Through her work with the European Marine Energy Centre, Dr Laura Watts contributed to data strategy development for a flexible-response integrated energy system embedded in the community and landscape of the Orkney Islands, Scotland.
This included expert advice to Aquatera, an environmental consultancy organisation that supported the establishment of a localised energy company with increasing access to low-carbon home energy assets. There are planned worldwide replication sites based on this initiative.
The Orkney Islands are now a centre for energy technology innovation, from marine energy to hydrogen fuel networks, attracting the interest of venture capitalists and local communities.
You can learn more about the story of making energy futures from Dr Watt's book:
'Energy at the end of the world: an Orkney Islands saga'
Learn more about our Geography and Lived Environment Institute and our various research activities:
With the results of our ground-breaking research, we have launched the postgraduate degrees:
MSc in GeoEnergy
The MSc Geoenergy will give you the skills needed to prosper in the rapidly developing clean energy industry. The programme has become popular with experienced resource industry professionals seeking to broaden and future-proof their skill base.
MSc Geoenergy degree information
MSc Applied Environmental Hydrogeology
There is an increasing demand for 'water numerate' professionals to scientifically address many of the water- and energy-resource and geoengineering challenges facing society today. Our MSc Applied Environmental Hydrogeology equips you to become a critical, innovative thinker in the field of hydrogeology with a focus on sustainable environmental practises.
We work with various organisations in the private sector, from start-ups, consultancies and SME's to large multi-national corporations, facilitated through our Business Development Team.
We have over 100 academics engaged in world-leading research that can help organisations address today's big challenges. Our academic staff regularly engage with organisations worldwide, providing independent advice and specialist expertise.
For decades removing harmful carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely under the sea was a mere pipe dream.
Our researchers are helping make it a reality.
You can read our story on the University Impact website:
In the past five years, we’ve seen a handful of small-scale DAC pilot plants operating in real-world conditions which are starting to show the viability of these technologies.