The Drax Power Station aims to capture one tonne of CO2 per day with the first BECCS pilot project in the world
Even though it was initially announced to start in the middle of 2020, the first bio energy carbon capture project in the world started this month at a North Yorkshire-based wood-burning plant. The company is also trying to find ways to store and use the captured carbon.
Drax Group Plc burns seven million tonnes of wood chips each year in order to power up generators to make electricity, but now with the debut of its BECCS pilot project, the company aims to capture one tonne a day of CO2 from its wood combustion. BECCS stands for Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage. Basically, what Drax wants is to remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere that it generates, aiming to reverse climate change on a certain scale.
When forests grow, the trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make the wood, but when you burn the wood no extra CO2 is released into the atmosphere, because the trees removed it in the first place, this is called carbon neutral. So by capturing the CO2 from wood burning, the amount of overall carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is reduced thus helping stop global temperature rise and reverse climate change.
Moreover, what the company also intends is to repurpose the captured CO2 and create useful products. According to the company’s press release, they are in discussions with different companies in order to achieve this. For example, with the British Beer and Pub Association to see it they could use the captured carbon to help keep the fizz in carbonated drinks, with other companies to use the CO2 in the making of synthetic fuels, etc.
Even though carbon capture seems an ideal solution, there are some that dispute this. The main reasons would be the massive quantities of crops being burned for power, the impact on the wildlife living on the land and depending on the trees, and the high amount of additional energy needed to capture and store the carbon.
Opinions on the project are contradictory, Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch says “Burning biomass is absolutely the wrong option for so many reason. Forests are vital for the health of the climate so we need to keep them not burn them.” Meanwhile, Andy Koss, the CEO of Drax Power claims “This is a really important technology. We are definitely going to need it if we want to keep within the 1.5C temperature limit proposed by scientists.”