This paper explores the social dimensions of an experimental release of carbon dioxide (CO2) carried out in Ardmucknish Bay, Argyll, United Kingdom. The experiment, which aimed to understand detectability and potential effects on the marine environment should there be any leakage from a CO2 storage site, provided a rare opportunity to study the social aspects of a carbon dioxide capture and storage-related event taking place in a lived-in environment. Qualitative research was carried out in the form of observation at public information events about the release, in-depth interviews with key project staff and local stakeholders/community members, and a review of online media coverage of the experiment. Focusing mainly on the observation and interview data, we discuss three key findings: the role of experience and analogues in learning about unfamiliar concepts like CO2 storage the challenge of addressing questions of uncertainty in public engagement; and the issue of when to commence engagement and how to frame the discussion. We conclude that whilst there are clearly slippages between a small-scale experiment and full-scale CCS, the social research carried out for this project demonstrates that issues of public and stakeholder perception are as relevant for offshore CO2 storage as they are for onshore.
- Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS)
- Environmental risk
- Environmental uncertainty
- Offshore energy
- Public engagement