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Drax and MHIENG to deliver world’s largest carbon capture power project

UK-headed power utility and world-leading sustainable biomass production and supply major Drax Group plc has announced that it and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, Ltd (MHIENG), part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, have agreed on a long-term contract for Drax Power to use its carbon capture technology, the Advanced KM CDR process, in what would be the largest deployment of negative emissions in power generation anywhere in the world.

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Kentaro Hosomi (left), Chief Regional Officer EMEA, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI); Carl Clayton, Head of BECCS, Drax Group, and Jenny Blyth, Project Analyst, Drax Group at the MHI pilot at Drax Power Station (photo courtesy Drax).

According to a statement, the contract, which combines UK innovation and world-leading Japanese technology, will see Drax license MHI’s unique carbon capture solvent, KS-21, to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) at its biomass power station near Selby, North Yorkshire.

Drax is already the largest decarbonization project in Europe, having converted its power station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, reducing its fossil emissions by more than 85 percent. By deploying bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology, Drax aims to go further – becoming carbon negative by 2030.

Drax is the first company to sign a contract to deploy carbon capture technology at scale in the UK. The project combines MHI’s proven and world-leading technology with offshore geological storage under the North Sea, helping the UK achieve its target to cut carbon emissions by 78 percent by 2035 and demonstrates global climate leadership ahead of this weekend’s G7 Summit in Cornwall and of COP26 in Glasgow in November.

As part of the agreement, MHI plans to locate its core CCS team at the company’s European headquarters in London and explore additional employment opportunities in the UK in the future. MHI is also looking at ways to strengthen its supply chain, including the potential production of its proprietary solvent in the UK.

Drax has already successfully trialed MHI’s Kansai-Mitsubishi Carbon Dioxide Removal Process (KM CDR Process) carbon capture technology in a pilot that started in 2020 to test two of MHI’s proprietary solvents (KS-1 and KS-21).

The world urgently needs to move from making climate pledges to taking climate action. This game-changing contract between Drax and MHI could contribute to a decade of global environmental leadership from the UK and provide further stimulus to a post-Covid economic recovery. Carbon capture technologies like BECCS are going to be absolutely vital in the fight against the climate crisis. Subject to the right regulatory framework being in place, Drax stands ready to invest further in this essential negative emissions technology, which not only permanently removes CO2 from the atmosphere but also delivers the reliable, renewable electricity needed for clean, green economic growth, said Will Gardiner CEO of Drax Group.

With an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework from the UK government, the first commercial BECCS unit at Drax could be operational as soon as 2027, supporting thousands of jobs across the North of England as soon as 2024, and capturing and storing at least 8 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030.

Drax has already kickstarted the planning process to deploy BECCS at its power station in North Yorkshire – if successful work could get underway to build BECCS at Drax as soon as 2024, with the creation of thousands of jobs.

We are very proud to have been selected as Drax’s technology partner and we firmly believe that our carbon capture technology will make a significant contribution to the UK and wider global community achieving their net-zero targets. We look forward to expanding our presence in the UK and developing a centre of excellence for the deployment of carbon capture technology across Europe, the Middle East, and the Africa region. MHI aims to continue reducing greenhouse gases globally by providing reliable and economically feasible carbon capture technology, supported by research and development activity over 30 years and commercial records around the world, said Kenji Terasawa, President, and CEO of  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering.

MHI, together with Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. (KEPCO) started the development of the Kansai-Mitsubishi Carbon Dioxide Removal Process (KM CDR Process), a post-combustion carbon capture technology, in 1990. As of May 2021, MHI has delivered a total of 13 commercial plants with the KM CDR Process, with two commercial plants currently under construction, making it a global leader in carbon capture technology deployment. Two more plants are currently under construction. The Advanced KM CDR Process will use a new proprietary solvent, called KS-21. Compared to the earlier KS-1 solvent, which has been adopted at 13 commercial plants delivered by MHIENG, KS-21 has a number of advantageous properties, such as lower volatility and greater stability against degradation. The newer solvent is also expected to enable reduced running costs and other economic benefits (graphic courtesy MHIENG).

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