Carbon storage plans for Moray Firth rock beds
Rock beds beneath the Moray Firth are to be examined as a potential site for carbon storage.
Experts believe the area has the potential to store decades of CO2 output from coal-fired power stations like Longannet in Fife.
They will examine the Captain Sandstone, which lies half a mile below the sea bed and at least 30 miles into the North Sea.
The research is due to be published later this year.
Dr Maxine Akhurst, from the British Geological Survey, said: "Scotland has a huge potential for carbon dioxide storage in offshore sandstones beneath the North Sea.
"The one we have selected for further study, the Captain Sandstone field, is twice the area of Fife.
"These sandstones are vast. The largest is as big as Belgium."
New geological mapping will be used to assess the thickness of the rocks and their carbon storage potential.
The system would involve carbon displacing the sea water in the porous rock.
Researchers from the Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage (SCCS) will also consider the challenges of getting captured carbon dioxide into the rock surface itself.
Computer modelling of CO2 injection into the rocks will test the long-term performance of the rocks to ensure CO2 remains permanently locked in.
A new pipeline could also be constructed to transport CO2 from an industrial plant to the site, leading to a CO2 network similar to the existing oil and gas networks in the North Sea.
The study is being funded by industry and the Scottish government.