Drax has announced that it is to pilot the first bioenergy carbon capture storage (BECCS) project of its kind in Europe which could make the renewable electricity produced at its North Yorkshire power station carbon negative.
The technology will mean the gases that cause global warming can be removed from the atmosphere at the same time as electricity is produced.
The demonstration project will see Drax partner with Leeds-based C-Capture and invest £400,000 in what could be the first of several pilot projects undertaken at Drax to deliver a rapid, lower cost demonstration of BECCS.
The government’s Clean Growth Strategy identified BECCS as one of several greenhouse gas removal technologies that could remove emissions from the atmosphere and help achieve long-term decarbonisation.
A report by the Energy Technology Institute in 2016 has suggested that by the 2050s BECCS could deliver roughly 55 million tonnes of net negative emissions a year in the UK – approximately half the nation’s emissions target.
Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group, said: ‘If the world is to achieve the targets agreed in Paris and pursue a cleaner future, negative emissions are a must – and BECCS is a leading technology to help achieve it.
‘This pilot is the UK’s first step, but it won’t be the only one at Drax. We will soon have four operational biomass units, which provide us with a great opportunity to test different technologies that could allow Drax, the country and the world, to deliver negative emissions and start to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
Chris Rayner, founder of C-Capture and Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Leeds, said: ‘We have developed fundamentally new chemistry to capture CO2 and have shown that it should be suitable for capturing the carbon produced from bioenergy processes.
‘The key part is now to move it from our own facilities and into the real world at Drax. Through the pilot scheme we aim to demonstrate that the technology we’ve developed is a cost-effective way to achieve one of the holy grails of CO2 emissions strategies – negative emissions in power production, which is where we believe the potential CO2 emissions reductions are likely to be the greatest.’
The first phase of the project will begin this month.