Drax eyes California as location for new biomass carbon capture plant

Yves is here. Biomass sounds like a scam and this article hints that it might be, especially since the subsidies are huge. Readers?

And if you’re in California, I would require a lot of disclosure. The process still sounds terribly sketchy.

Phoebe Cooke is a senior reporter for DeSmogBlog whose work has also appeared in The Independent, The Evening Standard, The Sun Online, Deutsche Welle, The Local and Prospect Magazine. Originally posted on DesmogBlog

Biomass bunkers at the Drax power plant in Selby, North Yorkshire. Credit: Alan Murray-Rast(CC BY SA 2.0)

British biomass giant Drax is lobbying the California government to host the first-ever “carbon negative” power plant outside the UK, despite concerns over the sustainability of the energy source.

Drax has long-standing plans to launch the world’s largest bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) plant in North Yorkshire, but now it looks like a former coal-fired power generator is eyeing California.

BECCS is a controversial technology that captures carbon dioxide from burning organic matter and buries it underground. While advocates are promoting it as a “carbon negative” solution to the climate problem, experts and activists arguedthat BECCS is not technically proven and that the practice poses risks to biodiversity, land and food security.

AT subordinationOn Thursday, as part of a draft of California’s 2022 preliminary plan – the state’s climate strategy – Drax argued that the US would be an “ideal location” to build its first BECCS project outside the UK, but would require significant political support in the form of government subsidies.

The news was met with criticism from anti-biomass campaigners, with Biofuelwatch’s Gary Hughes arguing that the plan was already carbon sequester-friendly, and that Drax had “failed” with concerns raised by environmental justice campaigners about emissions, air pollution. impact on biodiversity.

“Drax is trying to take advantage of the political landscape to see if the project comes through,” Hughes said.

“While not a specific proposal, it could turn out to be a conceptual victory for Drax,” he added. “They want California to promote BECCS, and if they can say ‘world climate leader’ California is on board, they think others will follow suit.”

“Perfect Site”

Drax currently has wood pellet processing plants in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama that feed power plants in the UK. The new proposal, which has been submitted to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the state’s clean air agency, is to have a single “negative emissions” BECCS facility either in California or at an unspecified location in the “Southeastern United States”. “.

Drax claims that this project will remove 2 megatons (Mt) of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, create 1,000 jobs, and allow California to reach climate goals faster by 2030.

The paper said California was the “ideal location” for the proposed plant, given the “substantial volumes of forestry waste biomass” available to support the BECCS plant, with “ideal geology suitable for permanent geological storage” in the state’s Central Valley.

However, the company has faced criticism over what is considered “waste” wood.

According to the latest annual report, almost half (3.1 million tons) of Drax wood pellets came fromsawmill waste and other waste from the wood processing industry, while “thinning” and “low-grade roundwood” amounted to 3.8 million tons. Campaigners argue that they should not be seen as waste, but they can provide biodiversity benefits such as microhabitats for thousands of species, as well as vital carbon sinks.

“Negative Carbon”

Climate characteristics of Drax, which in 2020 was the most the single largest emittercarbon dioxide in the UK, and the environmental friendliness of wood pellets used to generate electricity has been a growing controversy in recent years.

The company, which supplies about 5 per cent of the UK’s electricity from wood pellets, aims to be ‘carbon negative’ by 2030. indicatedIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that sustainable bioenergy is critical to achieving global climate goals.

The energy produced by Drax is classified as renewable under UK and EU law on the basis that it uses trees that can be replanted to capture carbon.

Drax claims its BECCS technology creates “carbon negative” electricity, as emissions are theoretically buried underground, removing more emissions from the atmosphere than are created.


In the document, Drax offers subsidies for the project, saying it is “ready to support the government in developing the right framework to scale up carbon removal technologies.”

The company also lists a “case study” of the UK’s BECCS plans, which outlines the planning steps Drax is taking to secure government support.

Drax is currently seeking additional subsidies from the UK government through the BECCS plans. ratedEnergy think tank Ember will cost electricity bill payers more than £31.7 billion over the plant’s 25-year lifespan. Planning app now receivedfor consideration by the Planning Inspectorate and a public consultation is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Ember’s Tomos Harrison said there was still time for politicians to turn their backs on BECCS in both the UK and the US.

“If implemented, Drax’s proposed BECCS project in the UK could cost energy bill payers billions of dollars, with a real and serious risk of not meeting any of the negative emission promises,” he told DeSmog.

“The role that BECCS can play in achieving climate goals is currently attracting increased attention and skepticism from British policymakers. It is critical that U.S. decision makers do not balk at subsidies for BECCS, but instead carefully examine its climate and financial implications before deciding to support it.”

Drax did not respond to a request for comment.

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