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UK power plant to go carbon negative by 2030

10/12/2019
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UK energy company Drax Group Plc have announced their intention to capture more carbon than they produce from their North Yorkshire power plant by 2030.

The biomass domes at Drax Power Station
(Image via Drax)

The UK’s largest single power plant has already undergone significant transformation in recent years to become Europe’s largest decarbonisation project, with four of its six units converted from burning coal to burning renewable biomass such as wood pellets - derived from sustainably farmed trees that absorb carbon emissions as they grow.

According to Drax, 94% of the power produced from the plant was renewable in the first half of 2019, reducing carbon output by 80%. They also launched a carbon-capture pilot project that traps the emissions created by burning the wood, which currently takes in a tonne of carbon each day.

The company’s next stage is to increase its use of biomass fuel with further installation of carbon capture and storage technology at two of its units before the end of the next decade, in order to capture 16 million tonnes of CO2 per year or more, and store it in underground caverns.

“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 CEO Will Gardiner.

Transforming the plant from coal-burning to clean energy is reported to have required subsidies of about £2 million a day. Scaling up its system to reach the company’s target of capturing 16 million tonnes of CO2 a year will require further government support, which would be provided in line with the UK’s policy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The UK Government is working on a policy and investment framework to encourage negative emissions technologies, which will enable the UK to be home to the world’s first carbon negative company. This is not just critical to beating the climate crisis, but also to enabling a just transition, protecting jobs and creating new opportunities for clean growth – delivering for the economy as well as for the environment,” Gardiner added.

The transformation of Drax’ plant will be a significant boon to the Humber region, where an alliance of companies - including Drax - have committed to making the area carbon neutral by capturing carbon and producing low-carbon hydrogen. The alliance say that the plan would safeguard thousands of manufacturing jobs across the country in addition to producing enough hydrogen to wean the UK off high-carbon gas.

Drax will be closing its remaining two coal generating units by 2025 and scaling up its carbon capture to achieve negative emissions by 2030.

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Redseal pipefiter, boilermaker 23years experience offshore onshore oil and gas
Stanley Harvey , 15 December 2019
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UK power plant to go carbon negative by 2030 - Time to read 3 min
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