Britain’s biggest biomass burner Drax is to pilot new biomass energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries from this autumn.
The small scale trial aims to collect up to 300kg of CO2 per day over 12 months.
If successful, the Yorkshire generator hopes massively scaled up kit and associated infrastructure can help enable its ambition of being carbon negative by 2030.
The power producer calculates that implementing BECCS at Drax could eliminate 16 million tonnes of emissions a year, or a third of the total the UK needs from BECCS to reach the national goal of carbon zero by 2050.
Once Britain’s biggest carbon emitter, Drax is switching off coal for commercial generation and has converted four of its furnaces to biomass, imported from the US into Immingham. With C-Capture, a University of Leeds spin-off, it began BECCS trials in 2018.
Two of Mitsubishi’s proprietary solvents will be tested. One is already in use at 13 commercial plants, including Petra Nova in Texas, the world’s largest post combustion carbon capture facility. There it captures 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 a year. The second is a newly developed solvent.
Drax CEO Will Gardner welcomed the partnership, “Developing ground-breaking BECCS at the power station will help ….support the development of a zero carbon industrial cluster in the Humber region”, he said.
The development comes as anti-biomass campaigners stepped up calls for the UK government to remove subsidies for biomass. The Cut Carbon Not Forests campaign urges people to pressure MPs to ensure support is instead diverted to renewable technologies such as wind and solar.