If successful, it could make the renewable electricity produced at biomass power stations carbon negative
The Drax power company has recently released details about transforming a former coal plant in North Yorkshire, UK into a test site to develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from electricity generation. The demo bioenergy carbon capture storage (BECCS) project is the first of its kind in Europe and its success would be vital to global efforts to combat climate change, as the gases causing global warning can be removed from the atmosphere while electricity is produced. 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. For the £400,000 trial, Drax partnered with Leeds-based C-Capture, while the company has planned to undertake several other pilot BECCS projects as well.
The new technology aims to remove CO2 from large scale point sources of gas emissions. In order to do this, solvent systems are developed, with the potential to capture the CO2 in a form suitable for storage, and prevent it from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The test site was set in operation last month, and at this point, it is hoped that the solvent C-Capture has developed is compatible with the biomass flue gas. A lab-scale study into the feasibility of re-utilising the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) absorbers at the power station will also be carried out to assess potential capture rates. Depending on the outcome of the initial feasibility study, a second phase of the pilot is planned for the autumn, when a demonstration unit will be installed to isolate the carbon dioxide produced by the biomass combustion.
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: “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.”
Source: Climate Action Programme
Image source: Drax