Bioenergy plus CCS at Drax will save UK £4.5bn this decade on road to Net Zero, report claims


Consultants for Drax say consumers and energy distributors will need to fork out an extra £4.5bn in the coming decade, if Britain foregoes expanded output from biomass linked to carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The Yorkshire power station, now fully converted to burning wood pellets largely from the US, was in its coal-burning days the UK’s biggest single industrial emitter of CO2.

Now focussing exclusively on bioenergy and CCS (- BECCS – ) , Drax announced last March that coal burning would cease this year, four years ahead of the UK’s declared cessation of coal-fired power generation.

By 2030 the generator plans to develop two BECCS units, together projected to capture up to 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.  Research released today by consultants Baringa says that figure equates to 40% of the legally binding carbon-stripping target identified under Britain’s fifth carbon budget, which covers the five years to 2032.

Without such investment, say Baringa, the UK’s energy system would incur additional costs of around £4.5bn by the early 2030s, making decarbonisation more difficult.

In the longer term, foregoing such expanded BECCS capacity at Drax or elsewhere in the UK could cost as much as £15Bn in the decade to 2050, says the report.

In all scenarios modelled in the Baringa study, the consultants conclude their economic analysis “suggests the Drax BECCS-power project is a ‘no regrets’ option…to enable the UK to meet net-zero in a cost optimal manner.”

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO commented: “Innovative green technologies like BECCS can save the UK billions of pounds in achieving our legally binding climate targets, whilst removing millions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

The Baringa report is here.


  1. Drax uses wood pellets from trees grown in industrial forests in North America, which have a significant fossil carbon cost in the growth of the wood, its harvesting, processing and shipment to the UK. This fossil carbon cost does not appear to be taken into account in the Baring study (I have only read the summary). Drax ought to be thinking of powering its steam boilers with other sources of fossil free energy, such as small modular reactors, preferably using molten salt technology which eliminates the dangers of high pressures in conventional water cooled pressure reactors. Or Drax could consider biomethane from a biodigester processing organic waste.


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