Professor Sir David King visits the GeoEnergy Test Bed

By Dr Max Bardwell: Research and Business Development Manager; GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC)
All photos are copyright to the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Sir David is the Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change and former Chief Scientific Adviser to H.M. Government and he came to Nottingham to see for himself the progress that had been made in establishing some of the technology demonstrators being developed as part of the ERA project.

Sir David King observes the drilling of boreholes at the GTB

Sir David was visiting the Trent Basin project, a community energy systems demonstrator, in the morning and spending the afternoon at the GeoEnergy Test Bed (GTB), a borehole test site designed to enable the development of sensors and software for the conventional, alternative and renewable energy industries. He was a on a well organised itinerary which gave us time with him to discuss the importance and future impact of the facility on energy related research and to physically show him the progress that had been made in creating the site since the project started on April 1st.

Professor Matthew Hall; GERC Director greets Sir David King at the GTB

Sir David and the ERA team arrived on time and Professor Matt Hall was there to receive them and introduce them to representatives from the British geological Survey (BGS) and the University of Leicester (UoL) who have been involved with establishing the facility. Also present to speak with Sir David were Paul Eastwood, representing Opus International Consultancy who have been advising on the borehole drilling related activities, and three GERC PhD students, Sayatan Chowdhury, David Gee and Claudia Petrucci. After a brief pause to collect refreshments everyone went upstairs to the dairy centre lecture room for the presentation part of the visit.

Matthew Hall presents on the GTB facility to the cohort of guests

Matt Hall gave a well-received presentation covering the value of the geology present at the GTB facility and the interest of industrial partners Schlumberger, in GERC and ERA. Ceri Vincent of BGS then gave an appraisal of the types of sensors being installed on site and how the measurements would be of particular interest with regards to Carbon Capture and Storage and also for the creation of other similar research sites in the UK and Europe. Paul Monks described the involvement of UoL on the GTB focussing in particular on his group’s expertise in volatile organic compound detection and analysis and atmospheric research capability. Finally each of the GERC PhD’s were asked to give a synopsis of their projects for Sir David which they all did admirably despite speaking to one of the world's leading experts on climate change. All the students gave a clear description of their work and enthusiastically communicated their aims of their research and the direct relevance of the GTB.

Sayantan Chowdhury spoke on the effects of multi-scale heterogeneities on gas plume behaviour in saline aquifer CO2 storage reservoirs and how the models he uses Schlumberger software to create could take data from and be validated by work to be done on the GTB.

Claudia Petrucci, articulated to Sir David how her work on Quantum gravity sensors and gravimetric survey design could be used to monitor smaller changes in gravity and that the GTB could be used as a test site to prove the results of her project.

Finally David Gee spoke on his work in the application of Satellite InSAR data in the assessment of ground motion in areas of historic mining and how as part of his work he was monitoring ground motion across the Nottinghamshire region including at the GTB site where the motion could be cross referenced against other data.

Sayantan Chowdhury; a PhD student with GERC explains his work to Sir David King

With the conclusion of the presentations (and after donning the relevant PPE) we all went out onto the GTB site itself, avoiding the worst of the mud by staying clear of the drill pad and trackway. Paul Eastwood gave a thorough overview of the site activity and drill pad operations. Aaron Scullion from Drilcorp, the company engaged to drill all the boreholes at the GTB, gave a good in depth technical run down on the drilling techniques being employed and the technology used to extract 290m of rock core in 3m sections from borehole SB04. Some of the rock core was put on display for Sir David to see and the value of the rock core to future research was explained. These discussions took place against a back drop of BGS installing sensors into borehole SB09 which served to give a good indication of the activity that has gone on through the year to bring the GTB to realisation. Sir David was very interested to hear about how the GTB has progressed and the avenues of research already embarked upon. He was especially keen to know about the potential for industrial involvement in the site and impact on the energy industry of having a facility like the GTB available to use.

Aaron Scullion; Drilcorp gives a technical run down on drilling techniques to Sir David King

The time felt like it passed very quickly and soon Sir David had to leave to prepare to give his lecture on COP21 and the post-Paris Energy Transition at University Park. He thanked everyone for their time and the efforts on the GTB. GERC members were also present at the evening lecture, which was very well attended. The talk was well delivered, informative and entertaining despite the serious nature of its contents and Sir David left no one in any doubt as to what would be required to achieve the goals arrived at during COP21. He answered all the audience questions afterwards and gave his own views as to the future challenges to reducing the impacts of climate change.  

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