A University of Strathclyde researcher has been named as Deputy Director of a UK-wide research programme on carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Dr Jen Roberts, a Chancellor’s Fellow in Strathclyde’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, is one of nine co-investigators with the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Centre (UKCCSRC) and one of two new team members recruited through new funding from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). She will be the network’s early career researcher lead.

The UKCCSRC’s overall aim with the new funding is to maintain a UK scientific lead in CCS, behind only the much larger USA and China, that the existence of an inclusive EPSRC-supported CCS network since 2009 has helped to establish, and to ensure that this lead is translated into wealth creation and commercial advantages for the UK, via strong and focused networking with a successful CCS industry sector.

The UKCCSRC Network+ will be essential to support a broadening of the UK research base to include a much wider range of scientific disciplines, matching the increasingly complex research challenges of deployment. The Network will also play a key part in building new high-tech CCS industries, with scope for extensive learning-by-doing once the first UK CCS plants are in service, and CO2 transport and storage infrastructure is in place for new projects to use.

Dr Roberts’ appointment coincides with preparations for COP26, the UN climate change conference, which will be held in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November.

She said: “I am delighted to join the UKCCSRC Network as Deputy Director and Early Career Researcher lead. Supporting inclusive career development and cross disciplinary working will stimulate the excellence and innovation needed for Net Zero.

“The UKCCSRC Network will maintain and grow an inclusive research community, ensuring the UK has the science, skills and diversity of minds needed to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.”

“Specific network initiatives include supporting Early Career Researcher development, international collaboration, and engagement across research, industry, policy and civic groups. These activities are critical for widening participation, relationship building and integration for ideas exchange, knowledge creation, and research leadership.”

The UK is seeing an unprecedented rise in CCS activity, with deployment planned to reach 10 million tonnes of CO2 captured and stored per year by 2030, followed by two decades with average growth of 10-15% per year to deliver around 100 MtCO2/yr by 2050 to underpin the UK’s net-zero target.

The new grant will deliver seamless continuity and expansion of UKCCSRC services to a UK CCS community that has to expand and diversify rapidly to deliver the 2030 targets, and will also help to develop UK capacity to meet the challenges of the following decades.

EPSRC Deputy Director for Cross-Council Programmes Dr Lucy Martin said: “Carbon capture and storage was identified as a pre-requisite for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by the Committee for Climate Change Net Zero report as it will enable us to capture, store and utilise greenhouse emissions from essential processes that cannot be decarbonised and potentially save the UK tens of billions of pounds over the next two decades.

“The UK Carbon Capture and Storage Centre has already delivered significant impact across technology and policy development, and this further funding will allow the Network+ to build on this success and help the UK achieve its net zero target by 2050.”

Other Co-Directors of the Network are from the Universities of Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge and Imperial College London. The network’s Director is Professor Jon Gibbins of the University of Sheffield.

Strathclyde leads a broad range of research related to Carbon Capture and Storage and industrial decarbonisation, including policy, economics, CO2 capture, transport, and geological storage, hydrogen for energy and inclusive implementation of net zero technologies.

The University is also a partner in the Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage, in which Dr Roberts is a Directorate member.