Drax chief executive Will Gardner has announced an ambition for the power site – once the UK’s largest coal-fired generating site – to be carbon negative by 2030. After closing its remaining two coal generating units at Drax Power Station – expected by 2025 – and using carbon capture technology on its biomass power generating units, the site’s operations would become carbon negative by 2030, he said.
Drax has already converted two-thirds of its power station from coal to biomass fuel. The company says that emissions were 80% lower in the first half of 2019 than they woiuld have been when it was coal-fired and 94% of generation was from the company’s renewable sources. Drax said it would use the engineering skill and expertise developed during the biomass coversion to develop negative emissions technologies.
Earlier this year Drax claimed to be the only power generator in the world to have captured carbon dioxide from a 100% biomass feedstock in a successful pilot project. The company says it could use bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) across all four of its biomass generating units. It notes that all major UK political parties have now committed to develop at least one industrial carbon capture storage cluster, but a framework for investment is required. Drax believes this should include:
- A regulated asset base “RAB” based model to support transport and storage;
- Contract for Difference to support BECCS and other negative emissions technologies.
- Support for multiple carbon capture clusters in the UK, including Zero Carbon Humber.
“Drax’s ambition is to be carbon negative by 2030. Having pioneered the use of sustainable biomass, Drax now produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity. With the right negative emissions policy, we can do much more, removing millions of tonnes of emissions from the atmosphere each year,” said Gardner.
Nina Skorupska, chief executive of REA, said: “This is an important announcement from Drax, whose exciting bioenergy with carbon capture demonstration project at its North Yorkshire site is at the global vanguard of negative emissions technology. This ambition should be welcomed as not only evidence of the UK’s drive towards net zero, but the determination of first-moving private companies like Drax to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it releases across the entirety of its operations, without the use of offsets.”