Biomass energy and supply group Drax, has announced they have received government approval for plans to fit carbon capture technology into their plant in North Yorkshire. Drax CEO, Will Gardiner, said the approval
demonstrates both the continued role that Drax Power Station has in delivering UK energy security and the critical role it could have in delivering large-scale carbon dioxide removals to meet Net Zero targets.
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, has approved plans for Drax to convert two of its biomass units at Drax Power Station to carbon removals technology bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Currently, Drax Power Station produces around 4% of the country’s power from its four biomass-generating units. By approving the BECCS plans, Drax says it will enable them to remove around 8 million tonnes of CO2 per year when the CCS units are fully operational.
However, the announcement has caused controversy, with climate thinktank Ember estimating the project will cost bill-payers around £40 billion, or £1.7 billion a year. This estimate would make the project one of the world’s most expensive energy projects. CEO of Ember, Phil MacDonald said the government report ignores the cost of building the plant. He said:
Over 20 years, this could make Drax’s BECCS plans one of the most expensive energy projects in the world, funded from bill-payers’ pockets.
Drax said that a recent Baringa analysis found that the BECCS project will actually save the UK £15 billion between 2030 and 2050. A government spokesperson also noted that Ember’s estimates were “speculative” as no decisions have yet been made regarding government funding of the project. They said:
Any potential support awarded to Drax would be subject to a value for money and affordability assessment and subsidy control considerations – ensuring that any tax- and bill-payer money is spent wisely.