‘World’s first’ as Drax capture CO2 at biomass plant

In a world’s first pilot, a demonstration plant at Drax power station in North Yorkshire is successfully using carbon capture technology.

It is the first time carbon dioxide has been captured from the combustion of a 100% biomass feedstock, with the plant capturing a tonne of CO2 a day during the pilot.

Engineers began commissioning the pilot plant in November with the first carbon now being captured, which shows that a solvent developed by engineers at C-Capture can be used to isolate the carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass is used to generate electricity.

Drax says data being obtained about the CO2 capture process will continue to be analysed throughout the pilot to fully understand the potential of the technology and how it could be scaled up at the plant. Part of this will include identifying and developing ways to store and use the carbon dioxide being captured.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said: ‘Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our BECCS project.

‘Climate change affects us all so this is of real significance – not just for us at Drax, but also for the UK and the rest of the world.

‘The successful deployment of BECCS requires us to identify ways in which the carbon dioxide we’re now capturing can be stored or used in other processes and we’re working with the government and other businesses on that.

‘We’re focused on working together to make the progress required for us to tackle climate change and enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future.’

Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry, said: ‘This innovative technology has the potential to make huge strides in our efforts to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new cutting-edge industry in the UK.

‘World-firsts like this will help us to realise our ambition of having a first operational plant by the mid-2020s as we continue to seize the opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.’

In related news, Drax last month submitted plans for four combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) at the Selby site, which they say was warranted to replace its existing two coal-fired units ahead of the government’s proposed coal phase-out in 2025.

However, ClientEarth, who were invited to produce a formal assessment of the plans, said that the combination of the project’s scale, high emissions intensity and long operating life make it a ‘significant’ threat to the UK’s carbon targets.