Drax establishes new business unit focusing on US BECCS strategy
The recent “global stocktake” at COP28 warned of the need to move faster to tackle the climate emergency.
Large-scale carbon removals, including BECCS, are widely regarded by the scientific community as being critical to meeting this challenge, said Drax.
Working with coalition partners, the new business will offer a compelling proposition that combines Drax’s expertise in BECCS with the latest climate science and it will have an ambitious goal to remove at least 6Mt of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, it added.
The business will be operationally separate within the Drax Group and headquartered in Houston in the United States. It will be led by Laurie Fitzmaurice, a senior energy infrastructure expert, who has nearly 30 years of experience in business development around the world, most recently for Amazon Web Services.
Drax intends to formally launch this new entity in the United States later this year and Laurie will be supported by a highly skilled management team with a track record of success in tackling climate change through the development and delivery of innovative technologies.
Laurie and her team will take ownership for delivering the Group’s strategy for BECCS in the US and internationally as set by the board of Drax Group plc.
It will have day-to-day responsibility for project execution including project development, delivery and marketing and sales of CDR credits and power and deployment of the Group’s multi-billion-dollar global BECCS capex programme.
Laurie will also use her experience to collaborate with strategic partners drawn from the scientific, academic, consulting, investment and construction communities, in addition to civil society, so as to accelerate the global deployment of carbon dioxide removals technology.
New research published by Foresight Transitions, a specialised consultancy led by a team from Imperial College, London, concluded that BECCS is necessary to help the United States achieve its ambitious decarbonisation scenarios, deliver a zero-carbon power system by 2035 and become net-negative by 2050.
The report also highlighted how deploying BECCS will not only enable deep emissions reductions but also has the potential to create thousands of jobs across multiple industries.
The study concluded that the integration of BECCS is a cost-effective solution, outweighing other technologies, whilst strengthening system reliability across the three major regional grids in the U.S. (CAISO, MISO, and ERCOT) and reducing interconnection delays.
Laurie Fitzmaurice, said: “I am delighted to have been asked to lead Drax’s new US-based business at such a crucial point in the growth of the carbon removals industry. We have enormous potential to play a significant role in tackling climate change and improving the lives of millions of people across the world.
“By working with a coalition of partners, together we can accelerate the rate at which we are able to scale carbon removals and I encourage stakeholders who are keen to deliver on this ambition to work with us.”
Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner, said: “The creation of this business brings to life years of hard work by many outstanding people across our Group and marks another step in Drax’s journey to enable a zero-carbon, lower-cost energy future. Our recent success is grounded in providing secure, renewable energy and our future is focused on playing a critical role in tackling climate change through the generation of secure, renewable power and the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide.
“I am excited to welcome Laurie as President of our new US-headquartered carbon removals business and look forward to working with her. We have a limited window of opportunity to capitalise on our first mover advantage and I am confident that the time is right for this approach.
“The new entity will bring focus and will scale the company’s ability to deliver carbon removals to organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprints. Delivering the ambitious targets will see the new entity become a leader in the growing carbon trading market.”