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World's first for carbon capture at Drax power plant

Ccus 1

The massive 4,000MW Drax power plant in North Yorkshire has started using bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology to capture up to 1t of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) every day.  

This is the first time carbon dioxide has been captured from the combustion of a 100% biomass feedstock anywhere in the world. 

The system works by re-utilising the flue gas desulphurisation absorbers at the power station and incorporating a new solvent that absorbs carbon.  

C-Capture, which developed the solvent, is a venture set up by Leeds University’s chemistry department and has been supported with £2.2M of funding by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund. 

C-Capture engineering director Caspar Schoolderman said the next step was to develop a bigger carbon capture system.  

“Working at this scale is really where the engineering gets interesting,” he said. “The challenge now is to get all the information we need to design and build a capture plant 10,000 times bigger. It’s only really when we get to those sorts of scales that we can start to have an impact on the climate.” 

In 2016 Drax completed the conversion of three coal fired boilers to run on biomass. The plant burns 7M.t of compressed wood pellets annually to produce 4,000MW of energy.

The pellets are produced by Drax and sourced from sustainably managed forests. 

Drax Group chief executive officer Will Gardiner said: “Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our BECCS project. Climate change affects us all so this is of real significance – not just for us at Drax, but also for the UK and the rest of the world. 

The FGD absorbers were previously used to remove sulphur from coal-burning emissions before the plant’s conversion.  

It is not the first time carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been trialled at the plant. In 2015, the government scrapped its £1bn funding for the controversial White Rose CCS project. 

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