Underground energy option

Back: Prof Nigel Brown, University of Edinburgh, David McAllister, Prime Minister Lower Saxony, and Dr Gernot Kalkoffen, CEO ExxonMobil Central Europe. Front: Principal Steve Chapman and Prof Hans-Peter Beck,Director Energy Research Centre Lower Saxony

Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh are among four top European petroleum engineering and geoscience universities and one leading energy research institute who have agreed to foster a strategic alliance for up to a decade of joint research.

The institutions, which also include Technische Universität Clausthal, Germany, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany, and the Energie-Forschungszentrum Niedersachsen, Germany, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) designed to address key challenges in future energy production through the innovative use of geological reservoirs for extracting and storing energy. It will include joint research and teaching activities on the characterisation and modelling of geological reservoirs for hydrocarbon and renewable energy production and storage.

The MoU was signed on Thursday 7 June 2012 at an event at the Edinburgh Campus in the Carnegie Room, James Watt Centre.

A collaborative project for oil and gas recovery operations

The institutions have already teamed up to develop a world-wide unique large-scale high-pressure rock test cell to investigate how geological energy reservoirs form and respond to human interventions. The joint research will help the understanding of enhanced oil and gas recovery operations, the search for safe waste disposal, and the investigation and optimised recovery of natural gas resources.

Staff exchanges, exchange of academic materials, research data and results, joint research projects, joint teaching activities, and liaison with world-leading industrial partners will all form part of this exciting new collaboration.

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, said, "The aim is to bring together top level specialists in the field from Scotland and Germany. They will collaborate on ways to use geological reservoirs to produce energy or to store energy produced from renewable sources, for example talking energy produced by wind power and storing it underground, in geological reservoirs, in the form of methane or taking advantage of geothermal possibilities in old oil fields.

"It is a natural progression, building on earlier research collaborations. Scotland and Lower Saxony, where the German institutions are based, also enjoy a lot of parallels in terms of renewable energy aspirations, wind and tidal options and renewable and fossil-fuel energy mixes.

The aim is to bring together top level specialists in the field from Scotland and Germany. They will collaborate on ways to use geological reservoirs to produce energy or to store energy produced from renewable sources

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University

David McAllister, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony said, "The exploitation of fossil fuels has not yet come to an end. However, resources are becoming scarcer and the energy generated from these more expensive. We see ourselves increasingly confronted with the necessity of producing energy without harming our environment."

Professor Timothy O €™Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Edinburgh, said, "The University of Edinburgh is delighted to be part of this collaboration, which will address some of the key challenges facing the energy sector. We are looking forward to working with our partners on a range of innovative projects that will improve our understanding of oil and gas recovery, and aid the quest for safe waste disposal."