Drax signs ‘game changing’ contract

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North Yorkshire-based energy group Drax has signed a long-term deal to help deliver the world’s largest negative emissions power generation project.

Drax and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, have agreed a deal for the company to use its carbon capture technology – the Advanced KM CDR process.

CombiningUK innovation and Japanese technology, the contract will see Drax license MHI’s unique carbon capture solvent, KS-21, to capture CO2 at its power station near Selby.

Drax is already the largest decarbonisation project in Europe, having converted its power station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, reducing its emissions by more than 85%.

By deploying Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology, Drax aims to go further – becoming carbon negative by 2030.

The first BECCS unit at Drax could be operational as soon as 2027, supporting thousands of jobs across the North as soon as 2024, and capturing and storing at least eight million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030.

Drax is the first company to sign a contract to deploy carbon capture technology at scale in the UK.

The project combines MHI’s technology with offshore geological storage under the North Sea, helping the UK achieve its target to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.

As part of the agreement, MHI plans to locate its core CCS team at the company’s European headquarters in London and explore additional employment opportunities in the UK in future.

The deal follows a successful trial by Drax of MHI’s carbon capture technology in a pilot that started last year to test two of MHI’s proprietary solvents.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said: “The world urgently needs to move from making climate pledges to taking climate action.

“This game-changing contract between Drax and MHI could contribute to a decade of global environmental leadership from the UK and provide further stimulus to a post-Covid economic recovery.

“Carbon capture technologies like BECCS are going to be absolutely vital in the fight against the climate crisis.

“Subject to the right regulatory framework being in place, Drax stands ready to invest further in this essential negative emissions technology, which not only permanently removes CO2 from the atmosphere but also delivers the reliable, renewable electricity needed for clean, green economic growth.”

Kenji Terasawa, president & CEO, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, said: “We are very proud to have been selected as Drax’s technology partner and we firmly believe our carbon capture technology will make a significant contribution to the UK and wider global community achieving their net zero targets.

“We look forward to expanding our presence in the UK and developing a centre of excellence for the deployment of carbon capture technology across Europe, the Middle East and Africa region.”

BECCS could be deployed at Drax as soon as 2027 – delivering the UK’s largest carbon capture project and permanently removing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.

Drax has begun the planning process to deploy BECCS at its power station – if successful, work could get underway to build BECCS as soon as 2024, with the creation of thousands of jobs.