Drax to invest £40m in BECCS project in 2022

Drax plans to invest £40 million in the first phase of its bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project in 2022, the company has announced.

As part of this investment, Drax has awarded a contract with the Australian industrial engineering firm Worley to start front-end engineering and design at the beginning of next year for the two BECCS units it is planning to build at its power station in North Yorkshire.

Drax will also commence site preparation, including relocation and decommissioning work to make space for the units, which it is aiming to start building in 2024 and begin operating by 2027. It has already kicked off the process of seeking planning permission for the units.

Drax group chief executive Will Gardiner said: “Our investment in BECCS and the signing of this contract with Worley demonstrates Drax’s commitment to deliver a vital technology which is urgently needed to address the climate crisis. It’s no longer enough to reduce emissions – the world has got to start removing carbon from the atmosphere if we are to avert this climate crisis.

“The government’s ambition for BECCS and its backing for the East Coast Cluster further demonstrates the vital role this negative emissions technology at Drax can play in helping the UK reach its net zero targets, as well as creating and protecting thousands of jobs and kickstarting a new green economy.”

The East Coast cluster, which was recently selected by the government to become one of the first net zero industrial clusters in the UK, is an amalgamation of the originally separate Zero Carbon Humber and Net Zero Teesside projects. As part of the proposals, Drax’s BECCS units will be connected to the CCS network for the Zero Carbon Humber project.

Drax signed a deal with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in June to use its carbon capture technology for the BECCS units, including licencing its proprietary solvent. It had already trialled the technology at the power station in a pilot beginning in 2020.

In October, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released a study produced Element Energy and Vivid Economics identifying the best options for support mechanisms for BECCS.