Bid to create thousands of jobs at Drax Power Station “to be greenlit”
Work is underway in Whitehall over the future of biomass energy fitted with carbon capture technology which would remove greenhouse emissions from the atmosphere that are produced by burning the fuel, in a process known as BECCS.
Earlier this month, the government last week launched a consultation on potential business models for the concept, with the Yorkshire-based company Drax in line to receive subsidies for its plans.
Last week, former Chancellor and leadership contender Rishi Sunak told The Yorkshire Post that he backed the plans which could see the creation of up to 10,000 jobs through implementing BECCS at the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire
"I created the £1 billion Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund as Chancellor,” Sunak told the publication.
“As a Yorkshire MP, I am excited about the opportunities and jobs that Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage could bring to our region, as well as its potential for sustainable power generation."
However, Liz Truss is widely expected to win the Conservative leadership race, with polling expert Sir John Curtice stating he would be "extraordinarily surprised" if she did not win. Truss' stance on the matter is as yet unclear.
Drax Power Station produces around 12% of the UK's renewable electricity, by burning biomass fuel, which is mainly wood pellets imported from North America.
Though supply chains between the UK and US for the fuel are unlikely to see the same level of turbulence that has rocked Europe due to the conflict in Ukraine, because of the strong relationships between the two nations, there are questions over how green the energy is.
Despite the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, telling MPs that Drax's model was "not sustainable", Whitehall sources told The Yorkshire Post that Drax’s implementation of the new technology would be key to the UK’s future energy security.
“BECCS is the only sustainable way to continue biomass in the way it removes emissions from the atmosphere.
“[Drax] is by far the single largest renewable energy generator in Britain, it is critical to energy security and without it we’d have to import that electricity from abroad or burn more gas.
“It’s a long-term investment and it’s exactly the type of decisions we should be making because no doubt there will be another gas crisis in the future.”
The consultation on BECCS is in its’ early stages, and does not close till October this year, but sources indicated the Government “fully supports” biomass and Drax.
“It’s a no-brainer from the Government’s perspective. But of course it will take time, and no decisions have been made just yet.
“It will be for the new government to take this forward, but from Kwasi’s position as energy secretary, he’s fully supportive of biomass.”
Drax believes that its plans for the plant in North Yorkshire could remove 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from 2030.
Bruce Heppenstall, Drax plant director, said this will be "the world’s biggest carbon capture in power project” and it will be “transformative for the region’s economy".
“Drax is ready to invest £2bn in the project and work to build BECCS could get underway as soon as 2024, creating and supporting around 10,000 jobs”.