Drax pauses £2bn biomass carbon capture plans

Drax CEO Will Gardiner

North Yorkshire power generator Drax Group said on Tuesday it will pause its planned £2 billion UK investment in bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) until it receives more clarity on UK government support.

Drax welcomed the UK government’s recent budget support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) but said the company required a firm commitment to BECCS before it could invest the money to install the technology at its 2.6 gigawatt biomass power plant.

“Whilst Drax welcomed the Government’s support for CCS in the recent Budget, it needs its BECCS project to gain Track 1 status, without which, Drax Power Station may become unviable and unable to contribute secure power at a time of such critical need,” said the company.

“Until it receives this clarity, Drax has taken the decision to pause it’s multi-million-pound investment programme into the BECCS project at Drax Power Station.

“At times with the tightest margins, Drax’s biomass units provide up to 11% of total GB electricity generation and up to 70% of the renewable generation.

“The loss of Drax’s and other biomass units from the GB electricity system would further reduce the country’s dispatchable capacity to 80% of peak demand (from the already forecasted fall to 85%), increasing reliance on gas and power imports, generation from intermittent renewables, and increasing costs for consumers.”

Drax CEO Will Gardiner said: “Whilst we welcome the Government’s ambition to invest billions in carbon capture and storage, we need a firm commitment to BECCS before we commit to investing £2bn into installing this technology at Drax Power Station.

“Until we have this clarity, we are pausing our multi-million pound investment programme in the UK BECCS project and urge Government to use the planned announcement at the end of the month to outline their support for this.

“Any further delays to this project could impact the UK’s security of supply, net zero and levelling-up ambitions and the viability of Drax Power Station.”