Drax announced today (21 March) that it will pause its planned £2 billion (€2.2bn) UK investment in bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) until it receives more clarity on government support, reported Reuters.
Drax welcomed the UK government's recent budget support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) but said it required a firm commitment to BECCS before it could invest in installing the technology at its 2.6 gigawatt biomass plant in Yorkshire, England.
"Until we have this clarity, we are pausing our multimillion-pound investment programme in the UK BECCS project," Drax CEO Will Gardiner said in a statement.
Gardiner further urged the government to outline its support in an announcement planned for the end of this month on measures to support energy security.
Britain's climate change advisers this month said that the technology is likely to be needed for the country's plans to cut electricity sector emissions as part of efforts to meet its climate goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
Other countries are also interested in building BECCS plants and Drax says it has hosted a ministerial visit from Poland, officials and academics from Indonesia and a delegation of bipartisan US state senators.
The US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is offering $85 per tonne of stored greenhouse gas removal using BECCS while Britain has yet to establish a market mechanism for the technology.
An existing subsidy scheme for biomass plants, which provide about 6% of the country's electricity, runs out in 2027, which a Drax spokesperson said could make them unviable.
UK energy minister Graham Stuart recently said: “The forthcoming Biomass Strategy […] will review the amount of sustainable biomass available (including that provided by the waste wood sector) to the UK and how this resource could be best utilised across the economy to help achieve the Government’s net zero and wider environmental commitments, while also supporting energy security”.
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