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Eccsel – NatLab Italy

The acronym stands for ECCSEL European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure. This is an initiative for the creation of a pan-European multi-centre infrastructure that links the best laboratories in Europe engaged in research on the CCS (CO2 Capture and Storage) and realizes, in addition to these, new ones suitable to improve knowledge and expertise in this field of applied geosciences.

The carbon capture and sequestration is also recognized at the political level, in Italy and in the world, as the technology which cannot be ignored if you want to achieve the goal of limiting the increase in temperature to 2050 within 2° C.

The European Zero Emissions Technology Platform (ZEP-TP), the Global CCS Institute (GCCSI), the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) and the Joint Program CCS EERA (European Energy Research Alliance) have drawn the Strategic Research Roadmaps, identifying and then quoting the fields in which it is necessary to improve the technology, if you really want that CCS is applied on a large scale and thus contribute to achieving the objectives of the BLUE Map scenario (IEA Roadmap, 2009). One hundred areas are mapped and around $ 20 billion is the estimate of public funding required to develop the next generation of CCS (source: Stern Report, 2006, p. 347).

The importance of the objective necessarily requires the deployment of strong skills, full use of the best laboratories in Europe, and a coherent plan of investments to integrate these laboratories and build new ones, according to a plan that maximizes the use of available funds, avoid unnecessary duplication, allows access to the larger community of researchers from countries outside Europe, places the European research on the face of global competition in a sector, the CCS, that if developed on a large scale, it would employ a number of people equal to the aircraft field.

ECCSEL is an initiative created to give an answer to this need for excellence in terms of research infrastructure.

In preparation since 2006, ECCSEL was included in the ESFRI roadmap in 2008.

In 2011-2012, it was funded by the European Commission (EC) Preparatory Phase (Part A contribution of 1.5 million euros), which will continue in the 2013-2014 period, thanks to a new contract recently awarded by the EC (Part B, contribution of 2.5 million euros), with the goal of having the infrastructure ECCSEL fully operational in 2015.

The preparatory phase of the project (Part A and B) involves 15 institutions from 10 European countries, including, for Italy, OGS and ENEA (National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development).

In Phase A, OGS proposed to contribute to the whole infrastructure, developing and managing the two natural laboratories of Panarea (Aeolian Islands) and Latera (Viterbo province), where conducting experimental monitoring and assessment of potential impact on ecosystems, due to possible leakage of CO2 from storage sites.

At Panarea and Latera natural CO2 leaks, which offer a unique opportunity to:

  • Study in detail the mechanisms of transport of CO2 in the upper layers of the soil;
  • Cross-calibrate and test innovative tools for monitoring leakage of CO2, even at very low intensity, both on land and in the sea;
  • Assess the impact of leakage of CO2 on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and to monitor the recovery-time;
  • Assess the effectiveness of monitoring strategies in the short, medium and long term.

A site, however, to be considered a laboratory must also have stable instrumentation, a logistics base and permanent laboratories on site.

Preliminary approaches were able to see a strong support from the local government, so it is now proposed that during the Preparatory B ECCSEL phase, permanent laboratories in Latera (province of Viterbo) and Panarea (Aeolian Islands) are proposed to be installed, managed and partially equipped with instrumentation of OGS, integrating them with new fixed monitoring tools (to the ground and underground in Latera, and at sea in Panarea), and that they are usable via the Internet, to carry out experiments that ECCSEL scientific community and others can follow remotely.

For more details see: www.eccsel.org

Contact person: dr. Michela Vellico