Drax cuts emissions by over 90% to become one of Europe’s lowest carbon power generators

Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group
  • Once the biggest coal fired power station in Western Europe, Drax has now slashed its CO2 emissions from power generation by over 90 percent since 2012, radically transforming the company and securing its place as one of Europe’s lowest carbon utilities.
  • Using sustainable biomass and hydro, in the first half of 2021 Drax became a purely renewable power generator, producing 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity – enough to power over 5 million homes and support the deployment of intermittent renewables such as wind and solar.
  • And by deploying bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) at the power station, Drax is set to go even further – generating the negative emissions needed to meet the UK’s net zero climate target while delivering jobs and clean growth in the North.

BRITISH renewable energy company Drax Group has cut the carbon emissions from its power generation by over 90 percent in under a decade, becoming one of Europe’s lowest carbon intensity power generators and moving it closer to achieving its world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030.

Formerly the largest coal power station in Western Europe, Drax has this year ended commercial coal generation, sold its existing gas assets and transformed itself into one of the region’s primary decarbonisers – it is now a purely renewable power generator.

Drax has also made significant progress in the first half of 2021 with plans to deploy the world’s largest carbon capture project by fitting critical negative emissions technology BECCS at the power plant in North Yorkshire.

Deploying BECCS at Drax could enable the renewable energy company to make an even greater contribution to carbon reductions in the coming decade, while creating jobs and supporting the UK’s green transition.

Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner, said: “Cutting Drax’s carbon emissions by more than 90% in under a decade is a unique achievement and is transformational – both for our business and the environment.

“Replacing fossil fuels with clean power from renewables like sustainable biomass and hydro has enabled the UK’s electricity system to decarbonise faster than any other major economy, but industry needs to go further than just reducing emissions – to permanently removing the CO2 in the atmosphere, if the UK is to achieve its ambitious climate targets.

“By deploying BECCS, Drax will be leading the way in permanently removing millions of tonnes of CO2 while generating renewable power and supporting clean growth and thousands of jobs in the 2020s.

“BECCS is the only technology available now which can deliver the negative emissions the world needs to meet the climate commitments set out in Paris in 2015, whilst also generating the reliable renewable electricity the world needs.”

In the first half of the year Drax progressed its plans for BECCS – selecting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as its technology partner and kickstarting the planning process to develop BECCS at Drax this decade.

It also started to explore overseas opportunities for BECCS with Bechtel, including in North America, and next generation BECCS technologies with Phoenix BioPower, creating further potential opportunities for the UK to export a critical technology that will be needed around the world.

Subject to the right government support, the first BECCS unit at Drax Power Station could be operational in 2027 with a second in 2030, permanently removing at least 8 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

It would be the world’s largest carbon capture power project, delivering a significant proportion of the negative emissions the UK needs to meet its climate targets.

In a pivotal six months for the company, Drax also secured additional biomass production capacity and reduced costs through the acquisition of Canadian biomass producer Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.

Drax is now the world’s leading integrated sustainable biomass generation and supply business, with access to global markets from Europe to the Far East.

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