Call for more Government engagement to enable £2bn bioenergy tech investment

Drax Power Station

The Government has today committed to support deployment of large-scale Power BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage) projects by 2030.

North Yorkshire-based Drax Power Station’s own BECCS project has not secured the Government’s high priority “Track 1 status”.

But the power station’s project has passed the deliverability assessment for the Power BECCS project submission process.

Drax says it has now been invited to enter formal talks with the Government, to move its project forward and ensure the Government can fulfil its commitment to achieving five million tonnes per annum of engineered Greenhouse Gas Removals (GGRs) by 2030.

Drax says it believes BECCS at its own site “is the only project that can enable the Government to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said it was very disappointed that no Humber projects were selected for Track 1 status in the Government’s carbon capture announcement.

Henri Murison, chief executive of the partnership, said: “While we’re pleased a number of Teesside projects have been selected for Track 1 status, we’re at a loss to see why the Humber has been missed out entirely.

“It means we’ll lose out on £15bn in private investment – £2bn from Drax alone – not to mention thousands of high quality jobs.”

Albert Weatherill, Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce president, and chairman of the Shipping, Transport and Renewables Committee, also criticised the Government’s decision.

He said: “I am surprised and hugely disappointed that the Humber, which is the biggest emitter of C02 in the UK, has been overlooked in these announcements when so much work has already been done and billions of pounds of private sector money has been pledged for these schemes.

“It will also mean thousands of high quality jobs will be missed out on.

“It’s very difficult to understand how one of the biggest industrial regions in the UK, and the second biggest CO2 emitter in Europe, can be ignored by the Government if it is serious about Levelling Up and its ambitions to meet its zero carbon targets.”

Earlier this month, Drax said it had decided to pause it’s £2bn investment programme into its BECCS scheme and demanded more clarity on Government backing for BECCS.

The business warned that if its own project was not awarded Track 1 status, the power station “may become unviable and unable to contribute secure power.”

But today Drax acknowledged the Government’s confirmation that in 2023 it will set out a process for the expansion of Track 1.

Will Gardiner

Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner said: “Delivery of BECCS at Drax Power Station will help the UK achieve its net zero targets, create thousands of jobs across the north and help ensure the UK’s long-term energy security.

“We note confirmation that our project has met the Government’s deliverability criteria and Government remains committed to achieve 5Mtpa of engineered Greenhouse Gas Removals by 2030 – a goal that cannot be achieved without BECCS at Drax Power Station.

“We will immediately enter into formal discussions with Government to take our project forward.

“With the right engagement from Government and swift decision making, Drax stands ready to progress our £2bn investment programme and deliver this critical project for the UK by 2030.”

Murison added: “The Humber is the biggest industrial emitter in the country and it’s make-or break for the UK’s net zero ambitions.

“This decision raises serious concerns about whether the Government is playing political games – divide and rule – instead of doing what is right for the economy and the path to decarbonisation.

“It’s vital the Government accelerates the expansion of the scheme to avoid any more damage.”