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Drax starts application process to build vital negative emissions technology

Drax is to begin the planning process for its proposals to build ground-breaking negative emissions technology, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), marking a major milestone in the project.

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The energy company has already transformed its power station near Selby in North Yorkshire to become the largest decarbonisation project in Europe having converted it to use sustainable biomass instead of coal.

Now it has ambitions to go further by using BECCS to permanently remove millions of tonnes of CO2 each year from the atmosphere and create a negative carbon footprint for the company.

In order to deploy this cutting edge, negative emissions technology Drax must secure a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the government – a process which takes around two years to complete, and which will get underway this month.

Drax recently announced the proposed acquisition of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc – a Canadian wood pellet producer. The deal, which is subject to shareholder and other approvals, would double Drax’s own biomass production capacity, in line with its strategy to increase self-supply, reduce costs and create a long term future for biomass – paving the way for the deployment of BECCS.

If successful in its DCO application, and subject to the right investment framework from government, work to build Drax’s first two BECCS units could get underway in 2024, ready to start capturing and storing up to eight million tonnes of CO2 a year.

The first phase of the DCO application process includes an informal public consultation during this month, when people can provide comments on Drax’s proposals for BECCS via the project website.

Earlier this month Drax sold its four gas power stations and last week announced as part of its 2020 financial results that it will not be progressing plans to develop high efficiency gas power at the Drax site in North Yorkshire.

The news comes a year after Drax said it would end almost 50 years of commercial coal-fired electricity generation at Drax Power Station in March 2021 and is aligned with its intention to focus on renewable generation from biomass and hydro.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO said:

“Kickstarting the DCO process this March is a landmark moment in deploying BECCS at Drax and delivering against our ambition to be a carbon negative company by 2030. At Drax we are very proud of the great strides already made in transforming the business to become the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator, producing enough renewable electricity for up to four million homes and protecting thousands of jobs in the process. With BECCS we can go even further – we will be permanently removing millions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and making a significant contribution to efforts to address the climate emergency, whilst creating thousands of new jobs and supporting a post-covid, economic recovery.”

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