The first in-person meeting of the DOE-funded initiative illustrates growing interest in CCUS across the US Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England
After two virtual meetings (held in February and November 2021), the COVID-19 pandemic receded enough that in September 2022, the Midwest Regional Carbon Initiative (MRCI) hosted its first in-person Annual Partners and Stakeholders Meeting. Since the MRCI launched amid the pandemic, being able to meet face-to-face with the groups the Initiative team has been working with for the past two years offered and an exciting change of pace and brought forth many new and exciting opportunities to grow the Initiative and further serve as that connection between all the audiences it serves.
About 175 people attended the two-day event, seeking information on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) for the 20-state MRCI region and beyond. Attendance surpassed that of any previous meeting held either virtually under the MRCI, or in-person throughout the life of the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) one of the two predecessor programs of the MRCI.
The meeting, held at the Grand Event Center in Columbus, Ohio, just a few miles from Battelle’s headquarters (Battelle co-leads the MRCI along with the Illinois State Geological Survey), boasted a packed agenda covering topics including Managing Risks for CCS Deployment, Regional Projects, Regulatory/Legislative Updates for MRCI States, Carbon Sequestration in the Outer Continental Shelf, and the Significance of Environmental Justice.
“Our goals in selecting speakers and presentations for these meetings are always to inform, connect, and inspire our stakeholders. They need broad overview of the CCS space from a lot of perspectives so they can understand what is happening on the federal and the individual state levels but also with potential collaborators and competitors,” says Dr. Neeraj Gupta, co-Principal Investigator for the MRCI.
It is also imperative that attendees get updates on the science surrounding geological sequestration and activities of the Initiative, much of which was provided by members of the MRCI team. Their presentations covered:
- Data Gathering and Analysis in MRCI Region (Task 3)
- Geologic Storage Technical Challenges (Task 2)
- Developing Infrastructure for CCS (Task 4)
- Stakeholder Outreach and Environmental Justice (Task 5)
The full-day Partners and Stakeholders meeting was complemented by workshops and team tag-ups, as well as a reception and dinner with a Keynote address held the day before.
Battelle Subsurface Scientist/Engineer Mark Kelley led a morning meeting of members of state geologic surveys who work in conjunction with the MRCI, lending their expertise to the project. During the meeting:
- Each member shared the status of their efforts on BP1 tasks
- Interactive Mapping Tool/ARC-GIS was shared (live demo) and discussed
- Planning of BP2 efforts across Tasks 2-4
In the afternoon, attendees had their choice of two vitally important, but vastly different workshops.
Dr. Srikanta Mishra led the “A Gentle Introduction to Machine Learning for Geologic Storage” workshop for nearly 30 people. Meant to provide a broad overview of what is Machine Learning (ML), what are some applications for geological carbon storage, and what are the advantages and limitations associated with this emerging technology, the workshop was a late add-on to the agenda but one that was very well-received and has already been requested as a webinar. During the workshop, Dr. Mishra presented a short summary of DOE-NETL’s SMART initiative on the use of ML for assisting permitting and operational decision making for CCS projects and focused the three-hour session on foundational concepts, practical examples, and a broader overview of the Science-informed Machine Learning for Accelerating Real-Time Decisions in Subsurface Applications (SMART) Initiative.
Concurrently, MRCI co-Principal Investigator Dr. Sallie Greenberg led the MRCI Stakeholder Engagement and Environmental Justice workshop. The workshop was the result of research a small team, composed of Greenberg, MRCI Outreach Task Lead Autumn Haagsma, and deputy leads Joy Frank-Collins and Jung Sung, undertook at the beginning of 2022. Throughout the year the group met to share learnings and research on Environmental Justice, working with an outside facilitator to help understand how EJ and Stakeholder Engagement are intertwined and to determine the best tools needed to effectively address EJ from a CCUS point of view. With this facilitator, we created a workbook with essential learnings about EJ that workshop participants received and used during the three-hour workshop. Capacity for this event was set at 75 and that target was met weeks in advance of the meeting.
“The workshop was our first volley at tackling the important and complex topic of Environmental Justice. Through our work on the Regional Partnerships, we have almost 20 years of experience engaging with stakeholders – and engagement is a vital component of EJ. So, we felt that was the right place to start our work to educate our stakeholders on this subject. We plan to refine and expand the workshop based on audience feedback during the meeting and explore taking it to new audiences and venues where appropriate,” Greenberg says.
Following the workshops, an opening reception and dinner was held at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in downtown Columbus, Ohio. After a lively cocktail hour where visitors were given full access to the exhibits, Spencer Schecht, Senior Client Engagement Lead for the Global CCS Institute gave the Keynote address, which offered guests a view of CCS activities globally.
View the full agenda here: Stakeholder Meeting 2022 Agenda