Geoscience for Subsurface Assurance of Future Energy TechnologY

Many future energy technologies will either directly or indirectly depend on the effective, safe use of the subsurface for either permanent and/or intermittent storage. GeoSAFETY will explore issues and challenges with using the subsurface as a deep geological repository for CCUS, geothermal energy, and hydrogen, as well as intermittent storage associated with wind and solar renewables.

The establishment of the GeoSAFETY initiative within the Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group - [RG]2 - represents a unique, integrated, multidisciplinary university research laboratory environment that will enable breakthroughs in our understanding of constitutive material behaviour and our ability to simulate their complex reservoir geomechanical behaviour during subsurface energy production and energy storage.


Innovation within GeoSAFETY seeks synergistic utilization of the subsurface pore space for both fluid (e.g. CO2, H2) and energy (e.g. wind, solar) storage as a practical short-to-medium term means of partially meeting ambitious global commitments to climate change mitigation and net-zero carbon emission policies. GeoSAFETY considers the emerging clean energy technologies that involve parallel or alternate co-injection of fluids (e.g. CO2 and brine) into subsurface formations for permanent/intermittent fluid storage and energy extraction (i.e. underground heat in geothermal, compressed air).

By collecting core to characterize the reservoir and caprock for specific storage operations, GeoSAFETY will assess the subsurface pore space storage capacity, containment, and injectivity performance in short (month/year) and long-terms (decades). Under this program, risk assessment of the pore space competition for other subsurface utilization options (e.g. H2 for storage, compressed air energy storage) will be included to better understand the potential for, and implications of, negative emission technologies.

Research Objectives

  • Assess subsurface systems dynamics and risks associated with geological storage utilised primarily for CO2 but including competing demands of other streams such as H2, with design and operation of a regional CO2 transport network at different time scales, to bridge the hour/day of the network and utilisation with the annual/storage lifetime timescale in storage.

  • Deploy a new generation of experimental systems within our GeoInnovation Environments to advance new knowledge related to how at multiple scales (e.g., pore to fracture to reservoir scale), geomechanical processes impact multiphase fluid flow processes in subsurface environments deployed for current and future energy systems.

Research Outcomes

  • Create solutions to overcome the technical challenges of adopting subsurface formations for fluid storage and utilization (e.g., carbon dioxide, hydrogen), geothermal systems, nuclear waste repositories, and intermittent subsurface energy storage (associated with renewables such as wind and solar).

  • Enable comparative risk and performance analysis of specific energy storage options within both current and future energy supply chains, and will consider the physics of subsurface storage systems, and their operation at different time scales, to strategically bridge short-term (hour/day) and long-term (annual/decades) subsurface storage resilience.