The marine system plays a significant role in providing solutions to the so-called energy trilemma: the need for sustainable, economic and secure energy. Offshore windfarms already provide significant power generation; PML has developed models to investigate near and far field impacts and potentially opportunities for co-location with other marine activities. Capture of fossil fuel and other industrial CO2 emissions and storage beneath our shelf seas (Carbon Capture and Storage) are vital if we are to meet emissions targets. PML models are at the forefront of research into impacts and monitoring of CCS. 

Carbon Capture and Storage

CCS is a climate change mitigation strategy by which CO2 is captured from point sources such as fossil fuel power generation or other industrial process, transported and stored deep underground in suitable geological formations. In the UK, as with many other countries, geological storage options lie offshore.

We have been actively involved in CCS R&D since 2004, initially considering potential environmental impacts in the unlikely event of CO2 leaking from storage, more recently in assessing the optimal monitoring strategies required for both assurance and EU regulations. Central to this has been the development of models that track the dispersion of plumes of dissolved CO2 within realistic hydrodynamic scenarios (see simulation). This work demonstrates that any leakage event would have a unique footprint, often with plumes advected around the release point over a tidal cycle. We can show that small leakage events can only impact areas measured by a few metres and are very unlikely to have a detrimental effect on regional ecosystems. In tidal regimes like the North Sea dispersion is rapid, and once leakage ceases, the return to “normal” water chemistry is quick. Our models also provide the only comprehensive assessment of the marine baseline – understanding the natural variability of the system is crucial for determining appropriate criteria that can be used to identify anomalies.

Further information

Please contact: Jerry Blackford

Related projects

ECO2, EU Framework 7, 2011-2015.
MMV, Measurement, Modelling and Verification of CO2
QICS, NERC/RCUK Energy Programme 2010-2015
STEMM-CCS, Horizon 2020, 2016-2020
UKCCSRC, EPSRC / RCUK Energy Programme, 2013-2017

Related publications

Show more publications

Idealised Carbon Capture Storage scheme

A simulated carbon sequestration and storage (CCS) leak in FVCOM showing the plume transport with tidal conditions typical of the north-west European shelf, resulting in a back and forth motion of the plume which spreads out over time.


Offshore wind

Shelf seas comprise 7% of the world's oceans and host enormous economic activity. Offshore renewables developed in response to rising energy demand require analysis of potential impacts.

Satellite data of offshore wind farms has shown that they influence the sea surface several kilometres away from the wind turbines.  Whilst satellites allow us unprecedented access to the sea’s surface, they are not able to see below it; but computer models of the sea can!

We use state-of-the-art models to explore how introducing offshore energy devices could alter the behaviour of the sea, with particular focus on how those changes might affect tides, stratification, marine ecosystem function and hydrodynamics in the north-west European continental shelf. We can provide information to help assess how offshore operations can be best planned to maximise benefit and minimise impact, a benefit for both regulators and operators.

Further information

Please contact: Pierre Cazenave

Related publications

  • Cazenave PW, Torres R and Allen JI. 2016. Unstructured grid modelling of offshore wind farm impacts on seasonally stratified shelf seas, Progress in Oceanography, Volume 145, Pages 25–41, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2016.04.004
  • Waggitt, JJ, Cazenave PW, Torres R, Williamson BJ and Scott BE. (submitted) Predictable microhabitat use among deep diving seabirds in a high energy environment, Journal of Applied Ecology.
  • Torres R and Uncles RJ. “Modeling of Estuarine and Coastal Waters.” In Modeling of Estuarine and Coastal Waters, Vol. 2. Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science. Elsevier, 2011.
A vertical slice through six wind turbine bases in the eastern Irish Sea showing water horizontal speed (top), water vertical velocity (middle) and temperature (bottom). The turbine bases increase mixing in stratified shelf seas.

A vertical slice through six wind turbine bases in the eastern Irish Sea showing water horizontal speed (top), water vertical velocity (middle) and temperature (bottom). The animation shows that turbine bases increase mixing in stratified shelf seas.