Biomass-burning unit to use pioneering technology that aims to cut emissions
Drax Group will lead a £400,000 trial to capture and store carbon at its north Yorkshire power station in an attempt to kickstart a technology that has repeatedly failed to get off the ground in the UK.
The company was part of earlier efforts to build a £1bn prototype carbon capture coal plant, but pulled out in 2015 after it missed out on renewable energy subsidies. Now the firm will try again with a pioneering form of the technology, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), to cut emissions from one of its four biomass-burning units. Experts believe the project is a world first.
In theory, BECCS can reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as the trees for the power station absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, while the carbon dioxide released from generating electricity does not enter the atmosphere.
Most of the UN climate science panel’s scenarios for stopping dangerous global warming assume the use of such “negative emissions” technology, though critics have said it would not work at scale.
Drax has partnered with University of Leeds spin-off C-Capture for the project, which starts this month. The carbon will be stored in a compressed form on the site, which the firm hopes to sell to an as-yet-unidentified partner for industrial processes.
Energy minister Claire Perry said the pilot was “hugely exciting”, while the Carbon Capture & Storage Association called it an “important step”.