Drax wins development consent to capture carbon at two units

Drax Power has been granted development consent to add carbon capture and storage (CCS) to two units at its Drax power station.
Drax power station currently has four generating units fuelled with biomass and it produces around 4% of the country’s power. The development consent will allow for construction, operation and maintenance of post-combustion carbon capture technology at units 1 and 2.
Drax Group said it plans to invest billions in the CCS plan, “subject to the right support from the UK government”. Will Gardiner, chief executive Drax Group, said “We welcome the ongoing development of policy support for BECCS [bioenergy with carbon capture and storage] and the anticipated launch of a consultation on a bridging mechanism for biomass generators to take them from the end of current renewable schemes through to BECCS operations.”
The company said it planned to source up to 80% of the materials and services it needs from British businesses. It claimed that could deliver up to 10,000 skilled jobs in the Humber at the peak of the project’s construction and safeguard 7,000 direct and supply chain jobs.

15 comments for “Drax wins development consent to capture carbon at two units

  1. Julia Townsend
    February 14, 2024 at 1:21 PM

    All the reasons why wood pellets are not a sustainable energy source are explained here. Visual people may also want to visit http://www.burnedthemovie.com

  2. Toby Aykroyd
    February 4, 2024 at 12:03 PM

    Any approval of BECCS, together with the extension of subsidies for Drax involved, would prolong and expand the damaging farce of large scale solid (wood) bioenergy burning.
    Drax themselves admit that wood bioenergy emits more CO2 per kWh than the fossil fuels it is meant to replace, including even coal, thus worsening climate change, destroying biodiversity and aggravating respiratory disease.
    This argument is not just coming from environmentalists and healthcare experts. Investment institutions are also making their views clear – in 2021 Drax was expelled from the Dow S&P Clean Energy Index because of its high emissions. In 2023 even its own Advisory Board warned that it should cease claiming its products to be ‘carbon neutral’.
    BECCS is technically unproven at scale, highly expensive, heavily dependent on subsidies and based on an unscientific lie about the ‘renewability’ of wood (impossible in the time scale needed to address climate change) and an accounting system that allows Drax to avoid counting emissions from its power generation. Furthermore it is a colossal waste of money from hard-pressed taxpayers and consumers (one estimate citing expenditure of £32 billion over 25 years) that could be spent on genuine renewable energy sources, recycling, insulation and fuel efficiency – all actually tackling climate change and generating much higher levels of sustainable economic activity and employment.

  3. Andy Wood
    February 3, 2024 at 2:19 AM

    Hubris: “extreme or excessive pride or dangerous overconfidence and complacency, often in combination with arrogance.” As example of hubris, consider the idea of fabricating CO2 capture and storage facilities and their associated transmission pipelines, built-out at planetary scale with belief but without proof, of its meaningful relevance for climate change mitigation, let alone proof that the scheme will be sustainable across multi-generations. The Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) idea contradicts the bioenergy corporate line about new trees sequestering CO2 produced by burning older trees. BECCS is very simply a disingenuous red herring intended to distract people from, among other things, the mundane reality of human-hastened climate change. Drax and its supporters appear only to desire their business-as-usual lifestyle at public expense. BECCS is simply a sparkly scheme intended to capture a hopeful publics’ attention; much like so-called “renewable” biofuel-fed energy schemes now proven to be worse for human life than fossil fuel-fed energy schemes. Living forests of trees provably capture and store carbon for free. BECCS however, is an unproven, very expensive energy industry grift, dressed in green, and paid for by taxpayers who would otherwise do well to focus on supporting meaningful climate and energy policies that address needs of future generations, rather than wants of today’s power brokers.

  4. Marina Richie
    February 2, 2024 at 1:30 AM

    We have sophisticated carbon capture and storage already–it’s called FORESTS. Ironically, the heavily subsidized Drax is responsible for clearcutting forests –including old-growth (storing far more carbon and for far longer than smaller trees)– at a massive scale from the southeastern U.S. to British Columbia.

  5. February 1, 2024 at 8:13 PM

    Why is the “jig” not up with the wood pellet industry and it’s false claims of renewable energy and that it uses wood scraps and fallen limbs (they are deforesting NC at an alarming rate) and are given subsidies to provide this harmful processing method onto our already overburdened and impacted communities. Enough is enough! Wake up and take heed from the communities that you are harming Drax. Leave NC and you’re not welcome back.

  6. Karen Vermeer
    January 26, 2024 at 2:15 PM

    Next to the fact that BECCS is an unproven technology, it is very odd that Drax is still receiving taxpayer money from the UK government. It is widely known that Drax is causing severe impacts on our environment, biodiversity and to people. Destroying forests (including their full and rich ecosystems), health and noise pollution, contributing to environmental injustice, etc. The company is not only refusing to stop and remediate these impacts, it is actively denying them. As an European citizen it is really hard to grasp why the UK government would support this. 

  7. Bonnie
    January 24, 2024 at 10:22 AM

    Roughly 164 acres of mostly hardwood trees are cut down every day in North Carolina, alone, for this pellet industry. Many of these trees taking centuries to grow. Every day these trees are cut down, losing their carbon capture capabilities, the habitat they provide, from slugs to black bears, while only providing 10 hours of electricity for 4 million people. You may be able to capture a portion of carbon from burning these trees but it doesn’t make up for what those trees sequester daily or the habitat that has been stolen, and the carnage of dead reptiles, plants, mammals, birds, and insects that are destroyed never to return, adding to the sixth mass extinction. How about investing that money into real solutions for sustainable energy?

  8. Krystal
    January 24, 2024 at 4:26 AM

    Drax in Gloster, Mississippi received a second notice of violation for hazardous air pollutants. As of today, Drax has not paid a fine for this violation, and yet they continue to release hazardous air pollutants in our small rural majority Black community. When will Drax stop polluting our communities. People are suffering from cancer, breathing issues, asthma, heart failure and many people are dying.

  9. Tom Brennan
    January 24, 2024 at 3:57 AM

    Another life sustaining government handout for unproven technology while it’s main feedstock supplier begins the potential brown-fielding of it’s US operations with bankruptcy looming in it’s near future. What a complete debacle. The losers: human health and our planet’s life sustaining trees in the southeast US; the winners: corporate greed.

  10. Stuart Phelps
    January 22, 2024 at 10:12 PM

    As a UK citizen, it’s hard to see the BECCS proposal as anything other than a way for Drax to keep the subsidies flowing and the UK Government to keep pretending it’s meeting its targets. Leaving the CO2 in the trees, on their roots, in the USA/Canada makes more sense than releasing it and then trying to ‘capture’ it. Putting the subsidies into truly sustainable energy and support for the legacy industries would have a far greater impact on both our future and the more economically vulnerable communities.

  11. Ann Stewart
    January 22, 2024 at 10:00 PM

    Nowhere in the conversations that Drax is having concerning BECCs, an unproven and hideously expensive technology which it wants UK citizens to subsidize, does the company address the astronomical energy requirements to operate such a facility. Thus, Drax is planning to deforest and decimate biodiversity from regions such as the S.E. United States at an even greater rate than it already is. The wood pellet industry is not the answer to climate change, no matter if there is ever BECCs or not. UK leaders need to turn their attention to truly sustainable forms of energy–wind, solar, geothermal and yes, even small modular nuclear reactors, and stop this folly. This emperor has absolutely no clothes. And the proposed EU regulations to halt the use of “carbon-zero” or “carbon-neutral” is a good start. Wood pellets are neither, no matter if you capture the emissions when they are finally burned in the UK. The felling, manufacture, and transport of those trees has already done its climate damage.

  12. Sheel
    January 20, 2024 at 6:41 PM

    Very insightful post on the Drax CCS plan. This is another tactic by Drax to divert the attention from its current flaws, including polluting the air for many nearby residents and clearcutting our old-standing Southeastern forests. The wood pellet energy scheme has no “sustainable” benefits.

    • J R Spruill
      January 23, 2024 at 12:29 AM

      Well said! At every opportunity citizens should ask the directors of Drax Group how many of the wood pellet plants Drax owns and those operated by Enviva, their largest supplier, have they visited.

  13. J R Spruill
    January 20, 2024 at 2:38 PM

    Many very informed UK citizens and organizations are speaking out about how this unproven Drax BECCS scheme is just a way for Drax to hold its hand out for more UK government subsidies and surcharges imposed on its customers.

    My opposition starts from a more fundamental position. That is, the fraudulent proposition that burning trees from British Columbia and the US creates zero carbon electricity in the UK. Here in North Carolina, Enviva, its largest supplier of wood pellets, is driving the clear-cut logging of mixed-species, mixed-age, naturally-generated hardwood forests to feed its four North Carolina mills and the one just across in southeast Virginia. Some of that logging is being done in wetlands. There is no replanting of such hardwood forests, nor even any requirement that the land owner leave it as woodland. If the landowner does leave it as woodland and relies on natural regeneration. forestry experts state that it takes at least 60 years for such regeneration to produce trees large enough to be clear-cut again to feed the Enviva wood pellet mills and to be burned in North Yorkshire.

  14. James Hewitt
    January 19, 2024 at 9:35 AM

    The bridging mechanism and Development Consent are tactical fig leaves. They seem to support a superficial scheme to store CO2 in a hole which Drax wants nothing to do with, even if its implausibly optimistic carbon capture facilities are built and perform as proposed in full scale operation.
    They may also serve to get government out of a hole of its own making – relying on magic bullets to justify continued burning of carbon to fuel the sort of growth which has caused the problem.
    More CO2 could probably be sequestered by not clear felling the trees whose wood Drax burns than the amount of Drax’ post-combustion CO2 likely to be stored under the North Sea before the global carbon budget for well below 2C is exhausted. BECCS by Drax merely makes matters worse. Would the subsidies be better spent on smelting at Port Tabot (but without reliance on implaasible CCS)?

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