Drax has begun capturing carbon emissions from one of the four biomass units at its power station in Yorkshire.

The company claims the trial of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is the first of its kind anywhere around the globe and could eventually enable Drax to become the world’s first “negative emissions” power station.

“Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our BECCS project,” said Drax Group chief executive Will Gardiner.

“Climate change affects us all so this is of real significance – not just for us at Drax, but also for the UK and the rest of the world.

“The successful deployment of BECCS requires us to identify ways in which the carbon dioxide we’re now capturing can be stored or used in other processes and we’re working with the government and other businesses on that.”

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: “This innovative technology has the potential to make huge strides in our efforts to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new cutting-edge industry in the UK.

“World-firsts like this will help us to realise our ambition of having a first operational plant by the mid-2020s as we continue to seize the opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy – a key part of our modern industrial strategy.”

The £400,000 pilot project is being undertaken in partnership with C-Capture which installed and commissioned a demonstration carbon capture and storage unit at the power station in November. Its propriety solvent is being used to isolate carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass is burnt to generate electricity.

Chris Rayner, the company’s founder and professor of organic chemistry at the University of Leeds, said: “This represents a major milestone on the road to achieving negative emissions through BECCS, which is going to be so important in the future.

“To see our technology working in a real environment like Drax is a tribute to the fantastic team of chemists and engineers who work on the project.”

C-Capture director of engineering Caspar Shoolderman said: “Working at this scale is really where the engineering gets interesting.

“The challenge now is to get all the information we need to design and build a capture plant 10,000 times bigger. It’s only really when we get to those sorts of scales that we can start to have an impact on the climate.”

Drax, BP and IP Group recently agreed to invest £3.5 million in C-Capture.

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