Coal power station Drax to win approval for net zero carbon capture plan

Schemes like Drax’s, known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or Beccs, are highly controversial – green groups argue that cutting down forests to generate electricity destroys the environment rather than protecting it.

However, the UK government has repeatedly supported the idea, suggesting it will become one of the key technologies enabling the UK to reach net zero.

Its net zero strategy report argues that: “When coupled with carbon capture and storage, it is possible that sustainable biomass can not only enable production of low carbon fuels but could also deliver vital negative emissions.”

Will Gardiner, chief executive of Drax Group, said: “Beccs is the only credible large-scale technology that can generate secure renewable power and deliver carbon removals.

“Our Beccs plans in North Yorkshire would create one of the world’s largest engineered carbon removals projects and put the Humber and the UK on the map as the global centre of Beccs development.”

Drax produces about 4pc of the UK’s electricity so ministers are keen to protect it on energy security grounds too.

The idea underpinning Beccs schemes is that as plants and trees grow they capture CO2 from the air via photosynthesis.

If they are burned then that CO2 is released back into the air so there is no overall loss or gain. This means wood-burning on its own can be described as “low carbon”.

However, if the CO2 from burning wood is captured and permanently buried underground, as Drax proposes, then the process actually removes CO2 from the atmosphere permanently. This would make it “carbon negative”.

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology), said: “Future energy scenarios, whether from the Committee on Climate Change, the IPCC or the International Energy Agency, all identify a critical role for Beccs in delivering carbon removals in order to enable the UK, and the rest of world, meet its net zero ambitions by 2050.

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