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Drax cuts emissions from power generation by 90% in 10 years

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Drax Group has cut the carbon emissions from its power generation by over 90% in less than a decade, the company reported in its half-year results.

With this reduction, Drax has become one of Europe’s lowest-carbon intensity power generators, moving it closer to achieving its ambition to be carbon negative by 2030.

Formerly the largest coal power station in Western Europe, Drax has this year ended commercial coal generation, sold its existing gas assets and is now a 100% renewable power generator. It has already been a big year for Drax, which secured additional biomass production capacity and reduced costs through the acquisition of Canadian biomass producer, Pinnacle Renewable Energy.

Drax’s adjusted EBITDA from continuing and discontinued operations were up by £7 million (€8.2 million) to £186 million (€218 million) in the first half of 2021, compared to £179 million (€210 million) in the same period in 2020. The company said it was pleased to announce a 10% increase in its dividend and that it remains committed to creating long-term value for its stakeholders.

The firm has also made ‘significant progress’ in the development of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in the first half of 2021, with plans to deploy the world’s largest carbon capture project at its facility in North Yorkshire. Deploying BECCS at Drax would enable the company to make an even greater contribution to carbon reductions in the coming decade while creating jobs and supporting the UK’s green transition.

“Cutting Drax’s carbon emissions by more than 90% in under a decade is a unique achievement and is transformational, both for our business and the environment,” said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO.

“Replacing fossil fuels with clean power from renewables like sustainable biomass and hydro has enabled the UK’s electricity system to decarbonise faster than any other major economy, but industry needs to go further than just reducing emissions – to permanently removing CO2 from the atmosphere, if the UK is to achieve its ambitious climate targets.

“By deploying BECCS, Drax will be leading the way in permanently removing millions of tonnes of CO2 while generating renewable power and supporting clean growth and thousands of jobs in the 2020s.

“BECCS is the only technology available now which can deliver the negative emissions the world needs to meet the climate commitments set out in Paris in 2015 while also generating the reliable renewable electricity the world needs.”

In the first half of the year, Drax progressed its plans for BECCS, choosing Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as its technology partner and kick-starting the planning process to develop BECCS at Drax this decade.

The company also started to explore overseas BECCS opportunities with Bechtel, including in North America, and next-generation BECCS technologies with Phoenix BioPower, creating further opportunities for the UK to export this technology that will be needed globally.

Subject to ‘the right government support’, the first BECCS unit at Drax Power Station could be operational in 2027, with a second in 2030, permanently removing at least 8 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere annually.