Decarbonisation and resource management

BGS Research

Ince Marshes © Peter Corcoran

The decarbonisation and resource management challenge area fits within the context of the increased need to decarbonise energy and industry, the need to use resources more optimally, intense global competition for resources and a need to expand the delivery of affordable, sustainable energy across the world.

Deep geological disposal is a key solution to the long-term, safe management of radioactive waste but it requires understanding complex subsurface processes for up to one million years in the future. Important science considerations include:

  • containment: understanding of subsurface fluid processes is vital to the containment of radioactive materials
  • siting: understanding the geology of a geo-disposal site will inform safe site selection

The carbon capture and storage (CCS) topic will support the UK, Europe and other countries in developing safe, efficient CO2 storage, to decarbonise industry, power, transport and heating to meet net zero targets.

  • Planning a CO2 storage site: developing a carbon dioxide (CO) storage pilot.
  • Developing and maintaining technologies and methodologies: predicting the evolution of the CO plume by observing site behaviour before, during and after injection of CO
  • Containment: selecting and characterising geological sites that are expected to enable permanent containment.
  • COinjection, pressure management and storage optimisation: understanding the limits on pressure increases, improving methods for injection and managing pressure increases.
  • Planning and licensing regulation.

Energy storage is a new topic area for the BGS. The strategy is:

  • to quantify the energy storage potential (capacity and location) offered by UK geological formations
  • to investigate and address geological barriers and hazards associated with the deployment of underground energy storage
  • to improve knowledge of thermal, hydrogeological, mechanical, chemical and microbiological influences on underground energy storage
  • to establish collaborative and innovative approaches to address these objectives


The emphasis of this topic’s research will be on the UK, where rapid development of geothermal power and heat and geo-exchange applications is urgently needed. Three priority areas have been identified that will be the focus of the topic’s activities over its lifetime.

Research in these areas is expected to have considerable impact, e.g. through reducing uncertainties in resource identification, supporting policy and regulation, and by generating knowledge that supports technology deployment and increases the numbers of geothermal applications in the UK before 2030.

The research will be delivered through three subtopics:

  • geothermal road map
  • geothermal potential of Carboniferous basins
  • subsurface urban heat resources


Understanding the origin, transport and concentration of the metals and materials that are critical for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Monitoring global mineral production, trade flows and mineral statistics to ensure a sustainable supply of resources for a low-carbon economy.

Our facilities

Geomicrobiology laboratory

Fluid and Rock Processes Laboratory Cluster

This cluster does research to identify, measure and quantify complex geological and environmental processes essential in the efficient utilisation of natural resources and underground spaces.

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Rock Volume Characterisation Laboratory Cluster

This cluster studies the structural and compositional characterisation of rocks and their constituent parts at all scales.

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UK Geoenergy Observatories

UK Geoenergy Observatories are facilitating a step change in our understanding of geology and our relationship with the underground environment.

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The BGS Strategy

Access our science strategy for 2023 to 2027, 'Understanding our Earth'

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