Blog posts

Can Hydrogen Help Us Combat Climate Change? – Examining the Hydrogen Supply Chain

This blog post was co-authored by Dr Semra Bakkaloglu, Dr Jasmin Cooper, and Mr Luke Dubey.

Hydrogen is a low carbon fuel as it produces zero carbon dioxide when burnt and because of this, it has taken centre stage in the fight against climate change. However, a recent publication has raised questions on how effective it is in decarbonising the global energy mix. While it is positioned to replace fossil fuels in the global energy mix, there is growing uncertainty on whether it is as ‘clean’ and ‘green’ as people say it is. Several nations, such as the UK, Japan and Canada, have unveiled their decarbonisation strategy with hydrogen replacing natural gas, in addition to committing to ambitious, world-leading projects to promote it as a fuel in low carbon energy systems. For example, the UK’s recent hydrogen strategy aims for 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030 (BEIS, 2021). Hydrogen has the potential to change the way we power our lives and could be critical in combating climate change and achieving net-zero goals.

Currently, hydrogen is mostly used in industrial (e.g. oil and gas refining, chemicals production, fertiliser production) applications and is not an important fuel source (i.e. it is not used in electricity generation and domestic heating). Most of the world’s hydrogen is made from fossil fuels (natural gas and coal) but only a small percentage is made using electrolysis (water splitting in electrolysers). The hydrogen supply chain is not simple. Hydrogen can be produced from a wide range of materials (water, fossil fuels, biomass) and there are numerous technologies available for converting these materials into hydrogen. Because of the complexity in production routes, a colour code is often used when referring to hydrogen.

What colour is hydrogen?

For hydrogen produced from fossil fuels there is:

  • Black hydrogen produced from black coal and the carbon dioxide produced during the process is released to the atmosphere.
  • Brown hydrogen made when brown coal is used to make hydrogen and the carbon dioxide produced during the process is released to the atmosphere.
  • Grey hydrogen made from natural gas and the carbon dioxide produced during the process is released to the atmosphere.
  • Blue hydrogen made from coal or natural gas but differs in that the carbon dioxide produced is captured and stored in underground storage e.g., salt caverns, depleted oil and gas fields.
  • Turquoise hydrogen is produced from natural gas, but solid carbon is produced instead of carbon dioxide.

When hydrogen is produced using electrolysis, the electricity source determines the colour code used:

  • Green hydrogen is when the electricity is from renewable sources (wind or solar).
  • Pink hydrogen is when the electricity is generated by a nuclear power plant- can also be referred to as red or purple hydrogen.
  • Yellow hydrogen is when grid electricity, or a mix of electricity sources (renewable, fossil fuels, nuclear) is used to power the electrolyser. It can also describe hydrogen produced from solar powered electrolysers.

Is hydrogen as clean as we think?

Here at the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) at Imperial College London, we have been investigating methane emissions and the importance of this greenhouse gas (GHG) since 2015. Methane is a potent GHG with a global warming potential (GWP)* of 29±11 (Forster et al., 2021) and therefore, reducing the amount of methane in the atmosphere is critical for limiting the impacts of global warming and climate change.

In the atmosphere, methane reacts with hydroxyl radicals (OH molecules) which breaks down methane to carbon dioxide. This is the main sink for methane i.e., the main source of removing methane from the atmosphere. However, hydrogen in the atmosphere will also reacts with these radicals and therefore reduces the amount available to remove methane. As a result, hydrogen is an indirect GHG which means it does not absorb and emit heat but will enhance the warming impacts of methane in the atmosphere.

We know from previous work at the Institute that gas supply chains emit methane and given that hydrogen will likely play an important role in displacing natural gas, hydrogen emissions are likely to occur in a similar fashion. Recent studies have estimated the GWP of hydrogen to be between 1.9 and 9.8 (Derwent et al. 2020, Derwent 2018). Thus, emissions from hydrogen supply chains may pose a risk to net-zero emission targets. This is contradictory to how hydrogen is often portrayed as a silver bullet for combating the climate change. Therefore, understanding where in the supply chain these emissions occur, as well as how much is emitted is vital to understanding its total effect on net-zero targets.

We are also currently modelling hydrogen emissions from a variety of supply chains (local use in the UK, international trade, green and blue hydrogen) to estimate the amount of hydrogen which could be emitted into the atmosphere and the climate change impacts of these emissions. If these emissions are not accounted for then we risk overshooting climate budgets. With so much investment being planned, and many governments’ energy strategies relying on its widespread use, it is imperative we learn more about its potential emissions.

If you want to find out more about our work, please visit our website or contact us at


Global Warming Potential is the a measurement of the heat absorbed by a gas in comparison to the heat absorbed by carbon dioxide. For example, methane has a GWP of 29+/-11, which means 1 kg methane will absorb the same amount of heat as 28+/-11 kg of carbon dioxide.


Derwent, R. 2018. Hydrogen for heating: atmospheric impacts – a literature review London, UK; Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Available:’

Derwent, R. G., Stevenson, D. S., Utembe, S. R., Jenkin, M. E., Khan, A. H. & Shallcross, D. E. 2020. Global modelling studies of hydrogen and its isotopomers using STOCHEM-CRI: Likely radiative forcing consequences of a future hydrogen economy. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 45, 9211-9221.

Forster, P., T. Storelvmo, K. Armour, W. Collins, J. L. Dufresne, D. Frame, D. J. Lunt, T. Mauritsen, M. D. Palmer, M. Watanabe, M. Wild, H. Zhang, 2021, The Earth’s Energy Budget, Climate Feedbacks, and Climate Sensitivity. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J. B. R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

How should the biodegradable waste management strategy respond to net zero?

In this blog, Dr Semra Bakkaloglu, a research associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) for the Methane and Environment Programme, examines how and why the waste sector needs to be overhauled to achieve net zero emissions.

Tractor and landfill
Landfill (Source: Pixabay)

With the COP26 less than three months away, countries are invited to come up with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets that match the mid-century net zero. The public have also demonstrated their support for sustainability and expressed a desire for immediate action. However, net zero is not possible unless the waste sector is overhauled.

Waste is a global issue. Municipal solid waste generation has increased significantly in recent decades as a result of population growth and urbanisation. The World Bank expects global waste to increase to 70% by 2050 from that generated in 2018. The 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2-eq emissions estimated for 2016 is projected to rise to 2.6 billion tonnes by 2050 (Kaza et al., 2018). Emissions from the waste sector account for about 5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (World Bank, 2018). Emissions are primarily caused by disposal in open dumps and landfills without landfill gas collection systems.

The World Bank, Trends in solid waste management.

Methane, which is produced by the decomposition of organic waste, is the largest contributor of GHG emission in the waste sector. It is 28-34 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period (Etminan et al., 2016). Endeavours to formalise the waste management can cut GHG emissions substantially. Although the waste sector had a major relative reduction in GHG emissions of 20% over the other sectors between 1990 and 2015 (UNFCC, 2015) due to a number of factors, including improved landfill standards, increase in landfill gas recovery being used for energy, changes in waste type sent to landfill and decrease in food waste amount, further mitigation of remaining emissions is getting tougher.

Waste management strategies have changed recently. With the UK government commitment to achieving “Net-Zero” emissions by 2050, all biodegradable waste will be eliminated from landfill by 2025, with food waste separated from inorganic waste collections (CCC, 2019). Additionally, EU waste legislation will require separate biodegradable collection by 2024, as well as a new target of no more than 10% waste landfilling by 2035 (EU methane strategy, 2020). These rapid changes in the composition of new waste inputs to landfills are changing the landfill gas production rate and composition (Bakkaloglu et al., 2021a). However, in a recent study we demonstrated that biogas plant could be a significant source of methane emissions. Diverting biodegradable waste to anaerobic and composting plants can help reduce landfill emissions and provide sustainable energy, but it may also contribute significantly to methane emissions from biogas plants unless necessary mitigation measures are implemented.

What actions need to take?

Further reduction of emissions from waste sector requires systematic approach, following:

• Cutting down on food waste
• More incentives for the collection and usage of organic wastes or residuals from farming
• More emission measurements on composting and biogas facilities
• Monitoring of biogas plant emissions on a daily basis
• Improvement of leaks caused by poor biogas plant design or maintenance
• Capturing of landfill emissions by effective gas recovery system and topsoil cover materials
• Minimizing the uncertainties in measured emission caused by methodological and meteorological conditions
• Revising the default landfill oxidation values for closed and active landfill sites to improve emission inventories
• Better regulations for monitoring measurements, reporting of emissions by companies and verification of emissions

In order to assess waste management strategies, more research is needed to estimate emissions from the biomethane supply chain and composting facilities, as well as monitor landfill emissions over time.

We can employ our resources, such as food waste, sludge, garbage and even wilted autumn leaves to generate sustainable energy for a decarbonised future. However, further research on waste to biomethane technologies, as well as reliable monitoring and reporting methodologies are essential to achieve net zero goal.


Bakkaloglu, S., Lowry, D., Fisher, R.E., France, J.L., and Nisbet, E.G.. 2021a, Carbon isotopic characterisation and oxidation of UK landfill methane emissions by atmospheric measurements. Waste Management.

Bakkaloglu, S., Lowry, D., Fisher, R.E., France, J.L., Brunner, D., Chen, H. and Nisbet, E.G., 2021b. Quantification of methane emissions from UK biogas plants. Waste Management, 124, pp.82-93.

Etminan, M., Myhre, G., Highwood, E. & Shine, K. Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing. 2016. Geophysical Research Letters 43, 12,614-612,623.

EU Methane Strategy, 2020. Web page, accessed on 29 July, 2021.

Kaza, Silpa; Yao, Lisa C.; Bhada-Tata, Perinaz; Van Woerden, Frank. 2018. What a Waste 2.0 : A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050. Urban Development;. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

Word Bank, 2018. Trends in Solid waste management. Web page : ttps:// accessed on 29, July 2021.

UNFCCC. 2017. “National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data for the Period 1990–2015.” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Book review: “The BOOM” by Russell Gold

‘A nuanced overview of successes, barriers and lessons learned from the American shale gas revolution.’

Our first book review has been written by Pooya Hoseinpoori, a researcher in energy system modelling and policy making at Sustainable Gas Institute, Imperial College London. In this review, she looks at a book that explores the American shale gas revolution. Pooya believes both supporters and opponents of fracking will find this book interesting in understanding the alternative viewpoint.

Over the last decade, the global gas market has experienced significant transformations that greatly impacted traditional gas relations and geopolitics worldwide. With the US shale boom, the growing LNG trade, and the emergence of new gas-producing states, natural gas has become an abundant commodity, and its supply is no longer constrained to regional markets. Among these developments, the American shale boom has had the most profound impact on the abundance of natural gas, reducing gas prices and changing the flow of international gas trades.

Due to the rise in natural gas production from unconventional resources, the United States` energy landscape has transformed significantly in the past decade. By 2010 a combination of disruptive technologies, innovative practices, and an accommodating regulatory environment facilitated the shale revolution, turning the US from a major natural gas importer into a gas exporter. Advancements in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and seismic imaging were the three main technological advancements that made it possible to extract hydrocarbons from previously inaccessible shale formations and opened vast deposits of natural gas for economic growth in the US. The result was a 50% increase in proved reserve and a 34 % increase in US gas production over the past decade. The shale revolution had a profound impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the US by facilitating the transition from coal to gas. In addition, the abundance of natural gas drove down US gas prices significantly, giving a competitive advantage to its industry. The large-scale extraction of shale deposits has also affected the global oil and gas market and energy security through the growing LNG trading.

Although the shale boom reduced the long-term energy security risks in the US, it has some major environmental risks, making it a controversial technology. Tens of thousands of wells have been drilled across the Unites States and this has led to the growing concerns about the impacts of fracking on ground/surface water resources and local air pollution. Due to the widespread nature of the shale business, it has a large community impact and people are confronted with the process of energy production in a way that they haven’t in the past. This has led to growing public opposition to it. On the other hand, although climate change is part of the shale boom story, many believe that the fugitive emissions from shale gas could offset the emission reduction gains of switching from coal to gas.

Russell Gold is an investigative journalist at the Wall Street Journal based in Texas. For over a decade, he travelled around the United States tracing fracking to drilling sites, farms, companies and interviewed drillers, market analysts, engineers, environmental activists, local residences and landowners to present a comprehensive overview of the shale revolution. In his book, “The BOOM”, he delivers a thorough and balanced analysis into the benefits and disadvantages of fracturing and the growing conflict between economic development, energy independence and environmental damages. I believe both supporters and opponents of fracking will find this book helpful in thinking about alternative viewpoints.

Gold’s book provides important insights into how energy change takes place. In his book, Gold elaborates on how the institutional structure of the United States, in particular private ownership of minerals, facilitated the emergence of fracking and how setting consistent government policies aligned with the right market forces created a fertile ground for the deployment of this disruptive technology. The science and engineering of hydraulic fracturing are well explained. The book also provides interesting information about the history and early fracking attempts, such as using nuclear weapons for fracking.

The Boom is the story of how the coordination of different stakeholders facilitated the biggest energy innovation of the last century. What I liked the most about the book was the interviews with people who were closely involved in this transition and its focus on the human side of adopting this provocative technology. Gold does a great job at capturing the great ambitions and personalities that drove the shale boom. There are the engineers of Mitchell Energy who first figured out how to use chemically slicked water to fracture shales; the investors at Devon who first committed to combine hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling enabling engineers to improve the well’s output and make it profitable; Chesapeake’s McClendon who figured out how to finance the revolution and sell it to wall street bankers; the landowner and local residents who had to live with the side effects of fracking and the activists who protested against fracking, trying to force stricter regulations and limit the environmental damages.

Gold concludes by saying natural gas could be a bridging fuel to a future powered by renewable energy and fracking could be the technology that enables that. Despite the consensus on the value of natural gas for reducing urban/regional pollutions, the debate about the role of fracking in addressing climate change and whether natural gas from fracking is net benefit rages on. Being a promising bridging fuel requires further efforts in reducing fugitive methane emissions from the fracking process and gas transport. The other key question is about the future of fracking. Would it deliver the future projected for it? And if shale boom is replicated by other countries and spread globally, how would it affect the energy markets?

Despite the controversial role of shale gas in a clean energy transition, I found the story of the shale boom an interesting account of a change in the energy system and the trade-offs we have to make. I think, as we look ahead to the transition to a low-carbon energy system, there are many lessons we can learn from the shale revolution, including how to create an environment that encourages innovation and enables disruptive technologies to emerge.


  • Gold, Russell. 2014. The Boom. Simon & Schuster.
  • Grigas, Agnia. 2017. The new geopolitics of natural gas. Harvard University Press.
  • Michael Greenstone, Jeff Holmstead, Susan Tierney, interview by Amy Harder. 2018. The Fracking Debate, Energy policy institute at the Univeristy of Chicago
  • Murtazashvili, Ilia. 2016. “Institutions and the shale boom.” Journal of Institutional Economics.
  • Richard S. Middleton, Rajan Gupta, Jeffrey D. Hyman, Hari S. Viswanathan. 2017. “The shale gas revolution: Barriers, sustainability, and emerging opportunities.” Applied Energy 88-95.
  • House of Commons, The Energy and Climate Change Committee, 2012. The Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets .
  • European Union., 2013. The Shale gas ‘revolution’ in the United States: Global implications, options for the EU ,
  • Hoxtell, A. G., 2012. The Impact of Shale Gas on European Energy Security, Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi).

Pooya works for the Sustainable Gas Institute at Imperial College which explores the role of natural gas in a low carbon world. Research is  needed to understand methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and to explore the feasibility of alternative fuels such as hydrogen. 

Sucking out the carbon from the atmosphere- can negative emissions technologies help reach climate goals?

A blog post from Dr Jasmin Cooper, Research Associate at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Sustainable Gas Institute.

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is continuing to rise despite global efforts to decarbonise energy systems and economies. There was a dip in emissions during periods of national lockdown in the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic but as lockdown measures ease, emissions are returning to pre-pandemic levels (Met Office, 2021). It has become evident that the rate of decarbonisation is not matching the pace needed to meet the climate change goals set in the Paris Agreement and therefore cutting fossil fuels alone is not enough to keep global warming to below 2°C or 1.5°C (McGrath, 2020). Therefore, negative emission technologies (NET), such as those which ‘suck’ carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, have an important role to play in meeting emission targets.

What are NET?

There are a number of emerging NET being used or are emerging, including afforestation and reforestation, direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture, some of which are on display in the Science Museum’s Our Future Planet exhibition. These are different to carbon capture for a coal power plant as they remove pre-existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, therefore reducing the atmospheric concentration.

Each NET has its pros and cons; afforestation is simple yet effective but requires large numbers of trees (and therefore land) to be planted in order for significant carbon removal. Bioenergy with carbon capture is multifunctional as it generates heat, electricity or liquid fuels, but the feedstock requirements could conflict with other agricultural needs.

Our work on the environmental impacts of NET

At the Sustainable Gas Institute, we have been examining the environmental impacts of NET. Important factors of all NET are their embodied emissions (emissions from the production of materials and energy used by a NET) and life cycle impacts (impacts from all activities, materials and energy consumed by a NET over its entire lifespan). If these are high, then the overall climate change mitigation effectiveness of a NET could be severely reduced. For example, if a NET emits 400 kg CO2eq. per one ton of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere, then the total amount of carbon dioxide removed is 600 kg. Emissions occur in the materials and energy supply chains, as well as during activities in the life cycle such as maintenance, construction and waste management. Emissions are not limited to greenhouse gases.

Other chemicals are released into the atmosphere that can have negative impacts to air quality, land and water. No NET is emission free, and the magnitude of emissions ranges greatly both between and within NET, depending on the quantity of materials and energy used and the level of decarbonisation within the materials and energy supply chains. Therefore, it is important that these emissions are taken into consideration when developing NET strategies.

Rate of carbon dioxide removal

Another important factor to consider is the amount of carbon dioxide removed over time. Afforestation and reforestation and enhanced weathering can remove large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the rate of removal is slow and dependant on factors such as temperature. Direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture, on the other hand, can remove large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere quickly, with capacities of one to four megatons of carbon dioxide per year per facility. However, they are the most sensitive to emissions from their supply chains. Hence, forward planning is an important factor that should be taken into account when devising NET strategies so that variations in rate of carbon dioxide removal are taken into account.

Weighing up the evidence

Overall, NETs do result in a net removal of carbon dioxide across their life cycle but under particular circumstances, the impact of embodied emissions can be so great that there is limited net carbon removal. Therefore, we need to maximise the effectiveness of NET as this is crucial for ensuring no repercussion are experienced from expanding their uptake globally and that there are no further delays to reaching Paris Agreement targets.


McGrath, M. 2020. ‘Not enough’ climate ambition shown by leaders. BBC News, 12 December 2020.
Met Office. 2021. Mauna Loa carbon dioxide forecast for 2021 [Online]. London, UK. Available: [Accessed June 2021 2021].


Creating a Global Energy Systems Model – Dr Sara Giarola

Picture of Dr Sara Giarola
Dr Sara Giarola

We recently interviewed Dr Sara Giarola, Research Fellow at the Sustainable Gas Institute and the lead modeller for the energy systems model, MUSE. We asked her about how policymakers in governments are using MUSE and other models to inform their decision making for COP-26.

What is an energy systems model? Why are they important?

It was the Oil crisis in the 1970s that prompted the development of tools which described the links between energy supply, demand, and their impact on the energy security of many nations in the world. These tools were the first known energy system models.

An energy system model is a mathematical representation of the sources of energy (e.g. renewables and fossil fuels), the destinations for energy (or “end-uses”, which include all the diverse needs of energy of our society, from the electricity consumed in our houses to the electricity used to run electric vehicles), and all the possible ways with which energy can transform from one to another form. For example, wind power can be converted into electricity in wind farms and distributed to our households.

Energy system models can be quite diverse. However, their communal strength relies in combining energy technologies, with environmental (for example, the interactions between energy and climate) and societal factors, and different policies. This makes them privileged tools to evaluate the implications of climate policies and industrial strategies.

What is your background?

Being a chemical engineer, I have always been fascinated by mathematics, especially when used to describe phenomena occurring at any scale, from chemical reactions to interconnected macro-systems. Since my PhD, which was on the optimisation of biofuels in transport, I became interested in energy problems and made energy system modelling one of my main research interests.

A diagram showing MUSE
A diagram of MUSE

What is unique about MUSE?

MUSE (ModUlar energy system Simulation Environment) models all the possible ways in which energy can be transformed on a global scale. It differs from existing models in many ways, but the agent-based nature of the model is particularly important. Models attempt to capture the behaviour of individuals within an environment. MUSE has an accurate description of the investment and operational decisions made in each geographical region and sector.

MUSE, not only describes each energy sector model (e.g., natural gas or renewables) presenting a comprehensive picture of all technologies in the sector, but also captures the diversity of drivers. These drivers are what lead firms and consumers to buy a specific energy technology rather than another one, and build upon factors such as education level, wealth, principles, and socio-cultural context.

How can modellers help policy makers?

In compliance with the Paris Agreement, governments need to take fundamental decisions around their plans of actions for reducing the greenhouse emissions. Energy models can be used to run “what-if” analyses asking questions around the shape of the energy mix in the future. Many of applications will be published in an IPCC Assessment report to be published in 2022.

The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), will be a milestone review of current achievements and future targets in the decarbonisation process. One of the key questions which the world will have to face will be around securing a global net-zero target by 2050 while keeping the 1.5 degrees limit in temperature increase compared to pre-industrial time. In order to answer this question, the modelling community has been involved in an unprecedented effort to help provide evidence through model inter-comparison studies to help facilitate transparent and robust dialogue between stakeholders.

Who has been interested in the model? Who have you worked with?

MUSE is part of the the Paris Reinforce project and of the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme.

Paris Reinforce builds upon an extensive modelling ensemble comprising five national/regional models for Europe, nine national models for countries outside of Europe, and eight global models. The project focuses on assessing climate policy decision within structured frameworks created around model inter-comparison studies in view of reaching the Paris Agreement targets, building bolder ambitions from existing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Economic and Climate Plans (NECPs).

CCG is a UK-research programme developed in preparation for COP26 to support investment in sustainable energy. Among the many research outputs, CCG analysts have produced a multi-model comparison study where four global energy system models and selected power sector models, were used to investigate the timing and rate of the global coal phase out, which is essential to foster a Paris Agreement-complaint energy system.

What challenges have you faced?

wind energy farm
Wind farm (Source: Pixabay)

One of the main difficulties of the energy system models, is to translate into research questions stakeholders’ concerns: workshops and surveys are important to identify their priorities. Similarly, translating the research finding into a message to policymakers and stakeholders could also be challenging, as models always bear a certain level of approximation of the real-world phenomena due to their inherent mathematical description.

What surprises have you come across?

It is interesting to see where major barriers to decarbonisation may lie. We recently modelled the real market segmentation of the ammonia industry in China, the biggest world ammonia manufacturer. As enterprises vary in size and governance, a net-zero transition becomes less favoured if specific policy mechanisms are absent to ensure competitivity. Therefore, in China, a net-zero ammonia industry would need to go beyond the unique implementation of a carbon tax and adopt more sophisticated subsidy schemes to allow the transition for enterprises with lower access to capital.

How can one find out more?

Information on the MUSE model can be found on the new Imperial College microsite, where you will see who is working on the model, our publications, and of stories from researchers sharing their views on the energy system transformations.

We will also launch our energy system simulator in the next month, where you can explore how the energy mix might evolve between now and 2100.

MUSE will soon be available as an open source software on a Github where you can copy the code, learn how the model works, and suggest ways to improve it, in a truly transparent global collaboration.

Methane emissions from biogas facilities are underestimated

A blog by Dr Semra Bakkaloglu, a Research Associate at the Sustaianable Gas Institute. 

Biogas production could have an important role in renewable energy, reducing the adverse effects on the climate. However, biogas production’s contribution to emissions of the greenhouse gas, methane, is not fully understood. Methane (CH4) is the second most potent and abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2) but because it only lasts in the atmosphere for short time (a decade) reducing methane emissions could have a more rapid impact on mitigating climate change. Unfortunately, there are significant discrepancies between official inventories of methane emissions and estimates derived from direct atmospheric measurement of biogas plants.  If biogas is to be a solution to climate change, we need to find effective emission methane reduction strategies, and sources also need to be properly quantified.

What is biogas?

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), biogas is defined as gas generated from anaerobic digesters. Biogas plant feed may be any biodegradable material, such as dedicated energy crops, agricultural residues, organic waste and paper mill waste. The integrated process in biogas plants includes feedstock supply and pre-treatment, gas treatment and utilisation, and recovery, pre-treatment and use of digestate (Wellinger et al., 2013). This comprises 50 to 70% methane, 30 to 50% CO2 and traces (1 to 5%) of hydrogen suphide and ammonia (National Non-Food Crops Centre, 2021). Biogas is used for heating, electricity or both. If biogas is upgraded to biomethane by removing other gases, biomethane has similar properties to natural gas and can be injected into gas grid or used as a road fuel.

Emissions from biogas plants

Biogas production has an important place in renewable energy, reducing the adverse effects on the climate. However, high methane emissions from biogas plants can arise from fugitive emissions. Depending on engine construction, plant design and operation conditions, emissions can occur through venting from compressors, pipes, single large leaks or long-lasting pressure relief valves and incomplete combustions from combined heat and power units.

Biogas plant and field
Figure 1: One of the UK’s biogas plants

Biogas plants not accounted for

Waste practices in the EU and the UK have changed recently as more waste is being diverted from landfill to biogas plants and composting facilities. There are 579 biogas plants in the UK (National Non-Food Crops Centre, 2021) and their number of biogas plants has grown in the last decade (Figure 2). Unfortunately, most have not been included in the National Atmospheric Emission Inventory (NAEI).

The sustainability of biogas plants depends on the land requirement and greenhouse gas accounting (OFGEM, 2018). However, studies have shown that there is often a maximum loss of 9% of the total production rate of methane (Bakkaloglu et al., 2021; Scheutz and Fredenslud, 2019, and Samuelsson et al. 2018). Also, research conducted by my colleagues and I at Royal Holloway in 2021, demonstrated that biogas plants emissions may account for up to 3.8% of the total methane emissions in the UK. This does not include the sewage sludge biogas plants. We therefore need robust, consistent emission measurements in the UK. Legal requirements should also be implemented, not only UK Net Zero Commitment, but also for the sustainability of biogas plants.

Biogas in the UK’s Net-Zero Commitment

Figure 2. Biogas plant market in the UK (Source: Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, 2019)

On 27 June 2019, the UK government committed to achieving net-zero Carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the UN’s Paris Agreement (Climate Change Committee, 2019). This Agreement sets out many recommendations as to how to achieve net-zero targeted, including:

  • Diversion of all biodegradable waste from landfills to anaerobic digesters or composting facilities by 2025.
  • Measures to reduce emissions from livestock, soils and waste manure.
  • Elimination of food waste as far as possible, and separation of food waste collections
  • Full utilisation of the UK’s biogenic waste sources, including residues from agriculture and forestry.

According to a recent article on the UN website in December 2020, more than 110 countries have a carbon neutral strategy by 2050 but this aim can only be achieved with appropriate reduction methods. As a result of this zero-commitment, biogas plants have assumed a more significant role, not only in the renewable energy market but also in waste strategies.

Although emissions from biogas plants have not, as yet, attracted serious attention, they may jeopardise the net-zero commitment unless the necessary action is taken.


What are the best options for road freight transport?

Pedro Gerber Machado, a visiting researcher from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, summarises his recent review paper examining the life cycle emissions for road freight transport. The review was carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Energy and Environment at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Author: Pedro Gerber Machado

The transport sector is responsible for around 30% of the world’s energy consumption and 16% of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.  To achieve an energy transition to guarantee net-zero emissions, reducing emissions from road transport is fundamental. Diesel is still the most common fuel used for heavy road transport and freight. While worldwide there is a move towards electric vehicles, their environmental benefit in reducing emissions depends on the area’s electricity sources. Our review paper examines the total environmental life cycle emissions of different fuel options and technologies for road freight transport (trucks) in 45 studies.

Electric vehicle
Source: Pixabay

Source of electricity

The source of electricity can make a big difference to greenhouse gas emissions. We found that with greenhouse gas emissions, higher values (3,148–3,664 g/km) are found in places where coal has a significant share in electricity generation. Lower emissions are found where renewables have higher percentages in electricity generation (496 g/km). In China, emissions can reach 5,479 g/km since electricity generation “is mostly from coal.”

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

For Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) technology, greenhouse gas emissions vary due to differing efficiency and assumptions about methane leakage during natural gas transportation. But future projections are optimistic due to the potential for improvements in controlling methane emissions (514 g/km in 2050).


In the analysis, biodiesel had a higher energy consumption and higher emissions profile in the production phase equal to diesel, which is the main reason for its low environmental performance.


The greenhouse gas emissions intensity from hydrogen varies as it is depends on its method of production such as coal gasification, steam methane reforming (SMR), and hydrolysis. The use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and liquid or gaseous use also influences its final emission profile.

Fuels vs. diesel

On average, the review showed that biogas, fuel-cell hydrogen, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) have lower emissions in their life cycle than diesel, with a chance of a 57% reduction in emissions for biodiesel, 77% for fuel-cell hydrogen, and 100% chance for biogas. Interestingly, even though biodiesel is a renewable source of fuel that receives significant attention due to its capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in our review, it had a higher average emission than diesel.

Electric car
Source: Pixabay

Battery electric, hydrogen fuel cells and biogas

We found that if a clean electricity matrix is available, with high renewable energy shares, battery electric vehicles provide the best option. Hydrogen fuel-cells, when hydrogen comes from renewable sources, are also comparable to battery electric vehicles. Biogas can serve as a feedstock for hydrogen production in substituting natural gas in steam methane reform or liquefied for use in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) trucks.

Further research into biogas emissions, fuel consumption, and its economics is essential. Since biogas production is possible from several sources, it could be suitable for different countries, such as Brazil.

Analysing air pollutants

There is a lack of studies exploring the life cycle of these options when it comes to air pollutants. Even though pollutant emissions in the use phase (for internal combustion options) have received more attention from the scientific community, emissions for the whole life cycle should also be studied. Even so, uncertainties related to the Tank-to-Wheel evaluation can increase the inaccurate values from this side of the analysis and the error propagation, directly impacting the policymakers. For PM2.5, hybrid and LNG options have greater changes in reducing the emissions. Fuel-cell, LNG, CNG, and hybrid trucks have higher chances of reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. In contrast, sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions came out inconclusive due to a lack of studies.

But what about the economics…

CNG, LNG, and hybrid trucks were the best options from an economic perspective. CNG has lower life cycle costs and fuel costs in most analyses, with values ranging from 50% lower life cycle costs than diesel to a 2% reduction, to 16% average increase. CNG is the most economical fuel for large fleets that conduct urban operations and can support private infrastructure.

LNG could have a payback time of 2.5 years or lower, considering the price differential mostly in long-haul operations due to its lower fuel costs. However, economic viability could be achieved due to the higher cost of LNG vehicles and maintenance and the limited range of LNG trucks relative to diesel. The studies also showed that the fuel efficiency in LNG trucks could dictate its economic viability. Relative efficiencies of less than 80% reduce the chances of lower costs by 50%.

Finally, hybrid trucks show a total life cycle cost from 10% lower to practically no difference. Although the incremental cost of hybrid trucks is expected to become close to zero in the future, additional investments of more than $35,000 in hybrid technology hinder its viability, especially with low diesel fuel costs.

In the developing world…

The question arises then if the best options regarding GHG and local pollutant emissions will ever be a possibility for developing regions. Even though authors point out that electric trucks could cause an increase in emissions in several places in the world and that it is still necessary to evaluate peak power demand to understand the operational aspects of transport electrification, electric trucks in countries with a high share of renewables have the most radical reductions in GHG. However, being the most expensive options, there is a slight chance that governments in poorer countries or even the private sector will be willing to pay the price, based solely on environmental reasons.

The way to go in these countries has been to continue to depend on diesel. Most recently, the discussion on natural gas use in the transport sector has gained some momentum. Cheaper than other alternative options, natural gas might be an option due to its lower PM emissions, even though other pollutants, or GHG emissions, are higher.


How much methane does the oil and gas sector emit?

By Dr Jasmin Cooper

Research Associate, Sustainable Gas Institute 

Methane is a major greenhouse gas and in recent year many companies in the oil and gas value chain have either joined initiatives or set ambitious targets in a bid to curb their emissions e.g. the oil and gas methane partnership (OGMP), the oil and gas climate initiative (OGCI) and methane intensity targets set by major oil and gas companies (GMI, 2020, OGCI, 2018, Shell, 2018, Xu et al., 2020). The quantification of emissions is undoubtably a key component of emission reduction strategies, but there is a high level of uncertainty in the emissions data globally. This is largely because, in comparison to carbon dioxide, there was a lack of interest until the second half of the 2010s when post the Paris Agreement, a spotlight was shone on short-lived climate forcers (e.g. methane, ozone, black carbon) and their role in reducing warming.

The global atmospheric concentration of methane has been increasing since preindustrial times and since the 1980s it has been rising rapidly (Dlugokencky, 2021). The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported in their Methane Tracker that oil and gas methane has been rising since the year 2000, with emissions peaking in 2019 (IEA, 2021b). The impacts of COVID-19 appear to have led to a drop in emissions, because of reductions in oil and gas demand because of slowdowns in industrial and economic activity. However, post COVID-19, it is imperative that 2019 remain the emissions peak if the sector is to contribute towards net-zero ambitions. This is because with methane being a potent greenhouse gas, reductions in emissions can lead to significant climate change and global warming benefits.

In the oil and gas sector, as well as in other sectors, methane emissions are quantified using one (or a combination) of three methods (National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, 2018): engineering calculations (including process modelling/simulation and using equipment specifications), emission factors (coefficient used to calculate emissions) and direct measurement. Out of these three, direct measurement is the most accurate for quantifying emissions and is also the only method which allows for the accounting and identification of emission sources. Data derived from direct measurement are also value inputs in emissions modelling via process simulation, as well as in updating or deriving emission factors. There is a broad spectrum of quantification technologies available, ranging from handheld devices, such as flow meters, to remote devices, such as observation stations and satellites. The measurement capabilities of these technologies also vary along the spectrum, from low level to extremely high emission rates and quick measurements to hours long measurement surveys.

However, quantifying emissions through direct measurement is expensive and time consuming. This, in combination with the lag in methane interest has results in a large proportion of global oil and gas related methane emissions being quantified using generic emission factor data. Major oil and gas countries such as the USA, Norway and Australia quantify their emissions using data derived from measurement campaigns, while others such as Egypt, Malaysia and Bolivia rely on default emission factors. Also, the sections of the oil and gas value chain (upstream, midstream and downstream) vary in how emissions are quantified. In countries which are major gas importers, such as Japan, Italy and Germany, emissions from the midstream and downstream activities are quantified using data derived from measurement surveys, while emissions from any upstream production and processing activities are quantified using either generic emission factors or country specific emission factors derived from expert estimates and industry reports.

Therefore, it is clear that actions need to be taken to homogenise the quality of both the emissions data and the emissions reporting, both between countries and within countries. The IEA launched in January 2021 their regulatory roadmap and toolkit (IEA, 2021a), which aims to provide guidance for policy makers who are looking to develop regulations to tackles their oil and gas methane emissions. A key step in this roadmap is developing an emissions profile.

For this step, accurate emissions data is needed, not just in magnitude of emissions and identifying all emission sources, but also in determining emission patters e.g., constant continuous, intermittent, episodic, inter-daily variable and intra-daily variable. These are important as they will directly impact any abatement measures and strategies developed, as well as any new regulations introduced to curb emissions. Hence, more efforts must be put into measuring emissions in all active oil and gas countries (both producers and consumers). The effectiveness of methane abatement measures will be hindered if the underlying emissions data is poor as either not enough or too many efforts could be put in, or efforts are not targeting the key emission sources.


Dlugokencky, E. 2021. Trends in atmospheric methane: Global CH4 monthly means [Online]. Boulder, CO, USA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Global monitoring Laboratory (NOAA/GML). Available: [Accessed].

GMI. 2020. UNEP: Oil and Gas Methane Partnership Initiative to Manage Methane Emissions from Upstream Oil and Gas Operations [Online]. Global Methane Initiative (GMI). Available: [Accessed October 2020].

IEA. 2021a. Driving Down Methane Leaks from the Oil and Gas Industry, Paris, FR; International Energy Agency (IEA). Available:’

IEA. 2021b. Methane Tracker 2021, Paris, FR; International Energy Agency (IEA). Available:’

National Academies of Sciences, E. & Medicine 2018. Improving Characterization of Anthropogenic Methane Emissions in the United States, Washington, DC, The National Academies Press.

OGCI. 2018. Oil and Gas Climate Initiative sets first collective methane target for member companies [Online]. New York, NY, USA: Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). Available: [Accessed June 2020].

Shell. 2018. Why shell has set a methane target [Online]. The Hague, NL: Royal Dutch Shell Available: [Accessed June 2020].

Xu, M., Aizhu, C. & Jacob-Phillips, S. 2020. China’s CNPC targets 50% slash in methane emission intensity by 2025. Reuters, 2 July 2020.

By Dr Jasmin Cooper

Research Associate, SGI

Satellites – The Future of Methane Measurement?

Author: Luke Dubey, Research Assistant, Sustainable Gas Institute


Methane satellite


Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2. While emissions are far lower than CO2 it has a far higher global warming potential and so is responsible for 25% of today’s anthropogenic climate forcing (Myhre et al., 2013). Methane is the main constituent of natural gas, which is important due to the increasing use of natural gas as a transition fuel. Measuring and estimating emissions from the natural gas supply chain is difficult due to methane being odourless and colourless, and emissions being widespread and intermittent. Should the emission rate of methane be higher than currently estimated the climate benefits of gas relative to coal could be wiped out.

How are emissions measured

Methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain are currently estimated using either bottom-up methods, such as handheld devices and mobile laboratories, or top-down methods such as aeroplanes and satellites. A current issue is that bottom-up methods tend to estimate lower emission rates than top-down methods, even in the same area, and it is not clear whether one is under or another over-estimating emissions.

Satellites have been used for detecting and measuring methane for 20 years. During this time their technology has improved massively, largely by lowering minimum detection limits and increasing resolution. As their technology has improved, their potential role in the natural gas industry has been realised. It is widely hoped they will be able to provide comprehensive coverage, detecting all emissions in an area (which may sometimes not allow access), while returning daily, providing constant measurements. This is highlighted within the EU’s methane strategy, which promotes the Sentinel 5P satellite as capable of measuring global emissions (European Commission, 2020).  However, there are many reasons why satellites might not be up for the task just yet, while still having immense potential in the future.

Limiting factors of satellites

1.      Cloud cover

Satellites have a few issues that are not widely enough discussed, the first being non-detectable pixels. A pixel is the base unit a satellite reports data in, these range from 60km2 for Envisat to 7km2 for Sentinel 5P all the way down to 50m2 for GHGSat. There are many factors that can cause a no detect in a pixel, such as aerosols, albedo and terrain, but the most important is cloud cover. Spectrometers onboard the satellites are what measure the methane; there are many ways to do this but a common one is using sunlight that is backscattered from the earths surface into the spectrometer. The absorption peaks are then analysed and the total concentration of methane in the column is outputted (Jacob et al., 2016). It is clear then how clouds could interfere with this process, with thin clouds causing too much noise for accurate results and thick clouds completely blocking out the sunlight. Many places that produce gas are cloudy virtually year-round (Russia, Canada), meaning there is no way to measure every day of the year with many areas having at best a couple days coverage per pixel per year. Technology has improved over time and will continue to do so, and new methods of reducing the noise from low cloud coverage have been developed, but there is still a long way to go.

2.      Minimum detection limits

A second issue is the minimum detection limits (MDL) of satellites. The MDL is a consequence of the uncertainty within the satellite’s instruments. This will lower as technology improves, and it is possible to reduce over repeated measurements. However, many of the emissions from natural gas are low level and spread out, such as from wells, meaning satellites are unlikely to be able to discern these from the background noise. The saving grace of the MDL is that emissions from natural gas follow a superemitting profile, where a few high emitting sources are responsible for the majority of emissions (Brandt et al., 2016). These are far more likely to be detected by the current crop of satellites and have been a common use of satellites thus far.

3.      Time of overpass

Another aspect of satellites that does not receive enough, if any, attention is the time of overpass. This is fundamentally important when measuring emissions from intermittent sources prevalent across the natural gas supply chain. Should a large emission occur immediately before an overpass the methane will have no time to disperse, increasing the likelihood it is above the MDL and detected. Should the same emission happen hours before an overpass, there is a long time for winds to disperse the emission into nearby pixels, or even distant pixels if long enough has passed. This results in no detection happening and zero emissions being attributed to the pixel. Conversely, if the emission rate detected in the first scenario was extrapolated up to a daily or yearly average, it would greatly overestimate total emissions. Increasing the number of days measured would reduce this effect, or having several satellites working in tandem, measuring at different times of day would help solve the issue.

Newer satellites

The counter to some of the issues raised is in the newest crop of ‘paid for’ satellites. Where the data is not freely available online, but private institutions pay for access, such as GHGSat. These satellites have far higher resolution and lower MDLs. The higher resolution increases the likelihood of an individual pixel being cloud free (chance of no clouds in one of 10,000 100m2 pixels or one 10km2 pixel). However, I believe these satellites play a different role, more comparable to an aeroplane than a traditional satellite. These satellites do not have the ability to globally track emissions daily, but target specific facilities. A hope is that these satellites could work in tandem with more traditional satellites, where one would scan the globe and detect an area of interest, and the other then has a more detailed look. All of this being possible rapidly, stopping hidden emissions far quicker than ever before. With the recent launch of GHGSat C (Iris) and the upcoming launch of MethaneSat this seems a very real possibility.


So what’s the role of satellites now and in the future? Currently satellites are useful for research, but uncertainties are too high for commercial use in the most part. However, satellites can currently play a very helpful role in locating superemitters. As technology improves satellites will become more useful, this will be aided by more satellites coming online, working in tandem to mitigate some of the limitations. Satellites have the potential to comprehensively measure emissions globally at the drop of a hat, this potential has received, and deserves, the time and investment fitting of such a game changing climate change technology. I am hopeful in the near future satellites will be the primary way of measuring methane globally.

BRANDT, A. R., HEATH, G. A. & COOLEY, D. 2016. Methane Leaks from Natural Gas Systems Follow Extreme Distributions. Environmental Science & Technology, 50, 12512-12520.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION. 2020. EU Methane Strategy [Online]. Available: [Accessed 6/1/21 2021].

JACOB, D. J., TURNER, A. J., MAASAKKERS, J. D., SHENG, J., SUN, K., LIU, X., CHANCE, K., ABEN, I., MCKEEVER, J. & FRANKENBERG, C. 2016. Satellite observations of atmospheric methane and their value for quantifying methane emissions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 16, 14371-14396.

MYHRE, G., SHINDELL, D., BRÉON, F. M., COLLINS, W., FUGLESTVEDT, J., HUANG, J., KOCH, D., LAMARQUE, J. F., LEE, D., MENDOZA, B., NAKAJIMA, T., ROBOCK, A., STEPHENS, G., TAKEMURA, T. & ZHANG, H. 2013. Anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing. In: STOCKER, T. F., QIN, D., PLATTNER, G. K., TIGNOR, M. M. B., ALLEN, S. K., BOSCHUNG, J., NAUELS, A., XIA, Y., BEX, V. & MIDGLEY, P. M. (eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Luke Dubey, Research Assistant, Sustainable Gas Institute

The Role of Public Perception in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Projects: Perspectives for Brazil

Author: Karen L. Mascarenhas 

1. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) context

Energy is one of the primary means that supports modern life, either to enable industrialization of goods, the provision of services or even to meet the daily needs of the citizens, such as transportation, housing, work, food and entertainment. Alongside the demand for energy efficiency, changes in the composition of the local and the global energy matrix are increasingly advancing towards cleaner and renewable energy sources, motivated mainly by the planet sustainability and climate change containment.

These concerns are supported by two broad international pacts settled in 2015: the Paris Agreement and the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations.

In Brazil, the transition of the energy matrix requires, initially, a gradual reduction in the use of fossil fuels with a high carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint, switching to the use of natural gas and, later, biogas, solar, wind and hydrogen as sustainable sources of energy production. While the energy demand is greater than the capacity to supply it through renewable sources, natural gas, as one of the fossil fuels with the lowest emission of greenhouse gases, is seen as an alternative to support this transition, offering the potential to provide cleaner and more affordable energy for a large number of people in the country.

The geological formation of the pre-salt basin on the coast of five Brazilian states enables the extraction of large quantities of oil and natural gas, the latter with a high concentration of CO2. The pre-salt has specific characteristics that allow the creation of saline cavities capable of storing large amounts of CO2, avoiding ventilation into the atmosphere. Technologies are being developed to separate methane (CH4), CO2 and other gases in caves using a gravimetric method and other innovative technologies, keeping the captured CO2 without the need to re-inject it, and preventing its release into the atmosphere. These technologies are called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), or Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) when it also involves the use of carbon for other ends.

Similar technologies adopted in a renewable area, such as the capture of CO2 released by the fermentation process in the ethanol production, are creating conditions for the capture, use and storage of carbon bioenergy (BECCUS). This technology can evolve to a negative CO2 footprint process, since the emissions from the processing, distribution and, finally, combustion of ethanol are neutralized through their absorption by the sugarcane plantation. In other words, the cycle becomes sustainable as the plants in the photosynthesis process absorb the gases released by the ethanol production process, and any reminiscent CO2 can be stored in underground reservoirs or employed as raw material for the production of other high-added-value products.

2. Social challenges in CCS implementation

However, the implementation of projects based on CCS technologies cause changes in the territory, as they imply in the creation or use of underground reservoirs on land (onshore) or underwater in the ocean (offshore), impacting the environment, their living ecosystems and the local community. Besides, CCS, CCUS, and BECCUS are not yet known by other agents outside the specific academic and industry segments that study or manage these technologies. Previous experiences of implementing projects of this nature have demonstrated the relevance of considering the perception and acceptance of government, media, society, other academics and industries not directly related to such technologies. Their reactions can emerge from irrational bias, through strong opinions, even if they have no information about the risks or benefits involved.

Therefore, public perception can be one of the critical barriers to the deployment of CCS projects. Local communities’ opposition has shown to derail demonstration plants in some of the first projects that aimed to store CO2 onshore as the Barendrecht Project in the Netherlands, and Beeskow in Germany

3. Public perception of CCS technologies in Brazil

In Brazil, studies on public perception related to CCS are still scarce, as only three were identified. The most comprehensive concerns a CCS onshore field study at the Recôncavo Basin in the state of Bahia, an outstanding region of oil exploration.  The qualitative research was conducted with ten communities located in prospective areas for CCS implementation who did not have any knowledge of the concept. The main outcomes show that people that have a previous relationship with oil companies are best equipped to identify benefits or disadvantages, that trust in government and private companies can enhance their support of such projects, and that further investigation is imperative as Brazil is a vast country with great cultural diversity, making it hard to define a national perception of CCS as each region has its singular peculiarities and views.

Public perception studies within developing countries are challenging as the low level of fundamental education impacts on the citizens’ capacity to understand complex concepts like climate change. This tends to be the profile of inhabitants in Brazilian regions where CCS projects could be implemented.

Pioneering studies in public perception in Brazil are under development in the Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), headquartered at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, financed by the Research Funding Agency of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP), in partnership with the private company Shell.

The RCGI started its activities in January 2016 and currently has 46 projects focused on innovation, aiming at the sustainable use of natural gas, biogas, hydrogen and the reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide to contribute towards climate improvement and sustainability.

The initiative to research public perception emerged from the intention of complementing the technical and legal research carried out in the RCGI with the social and human dimensions, in a multidisciplinary approach. This process aims to understand the public perception of all agents, as government representatives, media, academia, industry, NGOs and society, building trustful relationships and supporting the analysis of potential CCS projects in the country.

Author: Karen L. Mascarenhas – Imperial College London, University of São Paulo, Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI)