Biomass energy leviathan Drax is targeting global leadership in carbon removal, as it sets up an independent unit to drive development of its new-build BECCS – biomass emissions carbon capture and storage – plants in the US and internationally.
The UK-headquartered firm has hired energy infrastructure veteran Laurie Fitzmaurice – pictured – to head the unit in Texas, with a remit to harness partners in jointly removing more than six million 6Mt of CO2 from the planet’s atmosphere every year.
New research from consultants Foresight Transitions highlights what Drax calls BECCS’ ‘critical and cost-effective’ role in aiding the Biden administration in achieving ambitious decarbonisation targets, as well as the technologies’ potential for job creation and regional economic development within and outside the US.
In Britain, Drax’s plans for introducing BECCS technology to its pellet-burning plant in north Yorkshire and its transformation into the world’s largest carbon removals facility recently received planning approval from the Sunak administration.
Drax will formalise the new entity in the US later this year. Fitzmaurice, whose experience embraces leadership at Amazon Web Services, will lead a team tasked with project development, delivery and and sales of CDR credits, power and deployment of the parent group’s billion-dollar global capex programme in BECCS technologies, all designed to sequester the gas and achieve negative CO2 emissions.
The UK-led combine calls in aid new research from Foresight Transitions, a specialised consultancy centred on Imperial College, London.
The consultants’ US-focused study concludes BECCS is necessary to help the United States deliver a zero-carbon power system by 2035 and become net-negative by 2050.
The study concludes that the integration of BECCS is a cost-effective solution, outweighing other technologies, whilst strengthening system reliability across America’s three biggest regional grids – CAISO, MISO, and ERCOT – and reducing interconnection delays.
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said: “The creation of this business marks another step in Drax’s journey to enable a zero-carbon, lower-cost energy future. Our recent success is grounded in providing secure, renewable energy and our future is focused on playing a critical role in tackling climate change through the generation of secure, renewable power and the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide.
“I am excited to welcome Laurie as President of our new US-headquartered carbon removals business. We have a limited window of opportunity to capitalise on our first mover advantage and I am confident that the time is right for this approach.
“The new entity will bring focus and will scale the company’s ability to deliver carbon removals to organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprints. Delivering the ambitious targets will see the new entity become a leader in the growing carbon trading market.”
Fitzmaurice responded: “I am delighted to have been asked to lead Drax’s new US-based business at such a crucial point in the growth of the carbon removals industry. We have enormous potential to play a significant role in tackling climate change and improving the lives of billions’.