Plans to progress a £2 billion carbon capture and storage scheme at one of the UK’s largest power stations is under review.
The Environment Agency (EA) is evaluating proposals by Drax Power to develop BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage) projects at its site near Selby in North Yorkshire.
It comes after the UK recently awarded its first round of carbon dioxide (CO2) storage licences – and shortly after chancellor Jeremy Hunt pledged £20 billion for CCS in his Spring Budget.
Twelves firms, including Centrica owned Spirit Energy, have been granted 20 permits to store carbon dioxide in depleted oil and gas fields off the British coast.
The UK Government aims for around 30 million tonnes (9% of current emissions) to be stashed every year by 2030. And it hopes to decarbonise the UK’s power sector by 2035. However, there are currently no active CCS sites in the UK.
Drax aims to capture carbon dioxide emitted during electricity generation.
To do this, Drax will need an environmental permit from the EA. It will also need a Development Consent Order (DCO), following a process led and examined by the Planning Inspectorate.
The government has stated it will work closely with electricity generators currently using biomass to facilitate a transition to BECCS. Ministers previously agreed to support deployment of large-scale BECCS projects by 2030.
Drax is the UK’s largest single source of renewable electricity and is in the process of closing two legacy coal units this year.
How CCS works
CCS involves the capture of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes which are harmful to the atmosphere, such as cement production, or the burning of fossil fuels, using facilities like Drax adopting BECCS.
The carbon is then treated and transported, usually via ship or pipeline, to deep, underground storage, among geological formations.
The CO2 captured by Drax will be transported via a pipeline for permanent storage under the North Sea.
“Delivery of BECCS at Drax Power Station will help the UK achieve its net zero targets, create thousands of jobs across the north and help ensure the UK’s long-term energy security,” said Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner.
“With the right engagement from government and swift decision making, Drax stands ready to progress our £2 billion investment programme and deliver this critical project for the UK by 2030.”
Kathryn Richardson, environment manager at the EA, added: “The Environment Agency has an important part to play in permitting many of the energy technologies that are likely to emerge over the coming years.
“Our role is to ensure that these new technologies, including carbon capture, are conducted in a way that protects people and the environment.”
A consultation will close at the end of the month, after which the EA will review its findings.
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