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Drax sets world-first ambition to become carbon negative by 2030

Leading UK energy company, Drax Group Plc, says it is the first company in the world to announce an ambition to become carbon negative by 2030.
"Drax’s ambition is to be carbon negative by 2030. Having pioneered the use of sustainable biomass, Drax now produces 12 percent of the UK’s renewable electricity. With the right negative emissions policy, we can do much more," said CEO Will Gardiner speaking at a Powering Past Coal Alliance event at COP 25 in Madrid, Spain.

Drax aims to become carbon negative by 2030, but doing so will depend on an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework for new technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) currently being deployed together with C-Capture at Drax Power station in North Yorkshire, UK (photo courtesy Drax).

According to Will Gardiner, Drax has the ambition to become carbon negative by 2030, but doing so will depend on an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework for new technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Drax is already running a successful BECCS pilot at its power station capturing a tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) every day. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) agree that BECCS is critical to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Sustainable biomass is an important part of the UK’s long-term energy mix. Combining this renewable fuel with carbon capture and storage technology on Drax’s biomass generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire, England, means the Group’s operations could capture 16 million tonnes of CO2 a year or more – a significant proportion of the UK’s target.

Drax’s ambition is to be carbon negative by 2030. Having pioneered the use of sustainable biomass, Drax now produces 12 percent of the UK’s renewable electricity. With the right negative emissions policy, we can do much more, removing millions of tonnes of emissions from the atmosphere each year, said Will Gardiner.

Europe’s largest decarbonisation project

In recent years Drax has undergone a world-leading transformation, becoming Europe’s largest decarbonisation project by converting two-thirds of its coal-fired power station to use sustainable biomass.

In the first half of 2019, 94 percent of the power produced by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, England, was renewable – delivering carbon savings of more than 80 percent compared to when it only used coal.

The engineering skill and expertise at Drax which enabled this unique transformation is now pioneering ground-breaking negative emissions technologies. Earlier this year Drax became the first power generator in the world to have captured carbon dioxide (CO2) from a 100 percent biomass feedstock using BECCS technology, through its successful pilot project.

A view of the wood pellet storage silos at Drax Power.

A view of the wood pellet storage silos at Drax Power.

After closing its remaining two coal generating units at Drax Power Station by 2025 and using carbon capture technology on its biomass power generating units, its operations would become carbon negative by 2030.

The UK Government is working on a policy and investment framework to encourage negative emissions technologies, which will enable the UK to be home to the world’s first carbon-negative company. This is not just critical to beating the climate crisis, but also to enable a just transition, protecting jobs and creating new opportunities for clean growth – delivering for the economy as well as for the environment, said Will Gardiner.

Gardiner made the announcement on December 13, 2019, during the Powering Past Coal Alliance event at COP25 in Madrid, Spain. Drax is a member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, an initiative launched by the UK and Canadian governments, which seeks to end the use of unabated coal in power stations around the world by 2030.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance wants to accelerate the transition away from unabated coal and Drax is supporting its work to encourage members to scale up their ambitions, and to create more collaboration, helping prospective new members to move forward in using cleaner energy.

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