A former coal plant in the north of England will become the test site for a new way to remove carbon dioxide from electricity generation.
The Drax power company has released details of a new trial to develop bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS), billed as the first of its kind in Europe. The £400,000 trial will begin work this month at Drax’s biomass power plants in Yorkshire.
After an initial feasibility study, a second phase of the pilot is planned for the autumn. At this point, it is hoped a demonstration unit will be installed to isolate the carbon dioxide produced after burning biomass.
Three Drax’s units were previously used for coal-fired generation, but have since been upgraded to use wood pellets instead, imported from the US and Canada.
If successful, the unique project would lead to carbon dioxide being removed from Earth’s atmosphere. This process of ‘negative emissions’ is a key pillar of the UN’s plans under the Paris Agreement to prevent dangerous climate change.
Will Gardiner, CEO of the Drax Group, said: “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.
“This pilot is the UK’s first step, but it won’t be the only one at Drax. We will soon have four operational biomass units, which provide us with a great opportunity to test different technologies that could allow Drax, the country and the world, to deliver negative emissions and start to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
Claire Perry, the minister for energy and clean growth, said the government aimed to make the UK a world leader in the technology.
“It’s hugely exciting that Drax has chosen to invest in this innovative project, demonstrating how government support for innovation can create an environment where companies can develop new technologies and scale up investment to build the sectors we will need to achieve long term decarbonisation.”