DECC official visits Drax, announces CCS funding

By Erin Voegele | December 09, 2013

On Dec. 9, U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey visited the Drax coal-to-biomass conversion plant and announced the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change would award additional funding to a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project based at the site.

“It’s crucial that we safeguard our energy security by generating green electricity on U.K. soil that protects bill payers from volatile foreign energy imports,” Davey said.

The £700 million ($1.5 billion) biomass conversion project will transition three of the six power generation units at Drax’s power station in North Yorkshire to biomass. The conversion of one unit was completed earlier this year, with the two additional units expected to be complete by 2016.

The White Rose CCS project is the first project to be allocated funds under the U.K. government’s £1 billion CCS Commercialisation Programme. It calls for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art 426 MW clean coal plant in North Yorkshire will full carbon capture and storage. According to the DECC, the facility would have the potential to co-fire biomass. The project would capture approximately 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year and transport it for permanent undersea storage in the North Sea. New funding awarded to the project would support front end engineering and design (FEED) studies. Drax, Alstom and BOC are developers of the project.

Last month, Drax published an interim management statement, reporting that the performance of its first unit converted to burn biomass is encouraging. While optimization work is continuing, Drax said it has developed technical solutions to deliver an output of 600 MW from a converted unit. The company also announced that the commissioning of its new biomass delivery, storage and distribution systems is progressing.

According to Drax, the commissioning of new onsite facilities for the first converted unit are scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. The company is also on track to complete the conversion of its second unit in the second quarter of 2014. 



1 Responses

  1. Almuth



    It is sad to see Ed Davey promote Drax’s biomass investments as ‘renewable’, ‘clean’ and saving carbon. The reality is very different. Drax will need to burn pellets made from almost 16 million tonnes of wood every year once they have converted half their capacity to biomass, as planned. This is around 1.6 times as much as all the wood produced in the UK annually. Importing and burning such vast quantities of wood is anything but sustainable. Nor will carbon emissions be reduced: Investigations by reporters and by US conservation NGOs Dogwood Alliance and NRDC show that at least one of the pellet mills that Drax is sourcing from has used wood from clearcut ancient wetland forests, rich both in carbon and biodiversity. Drax’s pellet demand poses a grave threat to many remaining natural forests in the southern US, forests which store large amounts of carbon as well as being vital habitat for large numbers of species. Furthermore, biomass does not even replace coal: As Vince Cable made clear in an interview to the Financial Times, without partial conversion to wood pellets, Drax would have to close under EU legislation. Biomass conversion will allow them to continue burning coal in three units long-term, without capturing any of that carbon. Their proposed CCS unit is additional and CCS remains unproven and high-risk.


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