British power generation company Drax announced on March 21 it will pause its planned $2.45 billion investment in bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in the UK until it gets more clarity on government support.
While Drax welcomed the country’s recent budget support for CO2 capture and storage (CCS), the company said it needed a firm commitment to BECCS before it could invest in installing the technology at its 2.6-gigawatt biomass power plant in Yorkshire.
“Until we have this clarity, we are pausing our multimillion-pound investment program in the UK BECCS project,” said Drax CEO Will Gardiner. He asked the government to outline its support in an announcement planned for the end of March on measures that support energy security.
According to Reuters, UK’s climate change advisers said that BECCS is likely to be needed for England’s plans to reduce electricity sector emissions as part of its net-zero emissions goals by 2050.
Other countries are also interested in launching BECCS sites and Drax said it has hosted a ministerial visit from Poland, officials and academic figures from Indonesia, and a U.S. state senators delegation.
While the U.S. provides $85 per metric ton of stored greenhouse gas removal using BECCS through its Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the UK has not yet established a market mechanism for the technology.
Britain has an existing subsidy mechanism for biomass facilities, which offers approximately 6% of the country’s electricity. The subsidy, however, runs out in 2027, which, according to a Drax spokesperson would make them unviable.
Drax develops CCS technology that burns wood-based biomass pellets, a practice criticized by environmental activists who say the method is not CO2-neutral and could contribute to deforestation.
According to Drax, the company only uses wood residuals from trees mostly used for lumber and that demand for wood from sustainably managed forests could boost forest growth.
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