10th December 2019
Drax aims to be world's first carbon negative company by 2030
Using carbon capture technology on its biomass power generating units, Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, England, could become carbon negative by 2030.
Leading British energy company, Drax Group Plc, today announced its ambition to become the first carbon negative company, when CEO Will Gardiner spoke at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain.
Drax will aim to achieve carbon negative status – removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it produces throughout its operations – by 2030. However, as Gardiner explained, doing so will depend on an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework for new technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
As we reported back in February, Drax is already running a successful BECCS pilot, capturing a tonne of carbon dioxide every day. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Committee on Climate Change both agree that BECCS is critical to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Sustainable biomass is an important part of the UK's long-term energy mix. Combining this renewable fuel with carbon capture and storage technology on Drax's biomass generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire, England, means the Group's operations could capture 16 million tonnes of CO2 a year or more – a significant proportion of the UK's target.
"Drax's ambition is to be carbon negative by 2030," explained Gardiner. "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."
"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."
In recent years, Drax has undergone a world-leading transformation, by converting most of its coal-fired power station to use sustainable biomass and becoming Europe's largest decarbonisation project. During the first half of 2019, 94% of its power was renewable. Earlier this year, it became the only power generator in the world to have captured carbon dioxide from a 100% biomass feedstock using BECCS, through its successful pilot project. After closing its remaining two coal generating units by 2025 and using carbon capture technology on the biomass power generating units, its operations could become carbon negative by 2030.
"Negative emissions are vital if we are to limit the Earth's temperature rise to 1.5 degrees," said Gardiner. "At Drax, we can be the first company to produce negative emissions at scale – helping to arrest climate change and redefining what is possible in the transition beyond coal."