Carbon-Negative electricity. The idea is just as fancy as it sounds and Drax, a Biotech/Eco-Tech startup is piloting Europe’s first project that will lead to power stations pulling Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere in order to produce electricity. The power plant will not only be carbon-neutral, in due time will also prove to be carbon-negative.
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.
BECCS is vital to global efforts to combat climate change because the technology will mean the gases that cause global warming can be removed from the atmosphere at the same time as electricity is produced. This means power generation would no longer contribute to climate change but would start to reduce the carbon accumulating in the atmosphere.
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.
“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.”
– Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group
Originally built as a coal-fired power station, Drax in North Yorkshire, England, has been focusing on renewables in recent years and this new bioenergy carbon capture storage (BECCS) project is claimed to be the first of its kind in Europe.
The scheme will involve Drax partnering with C-Capture, a spin-out from the University of Leeds that designs solvent systems for the removal of carbon dioxide from gas streams.
The average surface temperature of the planet has increased by around 1.1 degrees Celsius since the end of the 19th century, according to NASA. This change, NASA says, has been driven “largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.”
“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”
– Chris Rayner, Founder, C-Capture
Drax Power Ltd, which operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies seven per cent of the country’s electricity needs. The energy firm converted from burning coal to become a predominantly biomass-fueled electricity generator.
Saad Sherida al-Kaabi