Drax “may become unviable” without BECCS support from UK government

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Drax has welcomed the UK government's support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the recent Budget, but added it needs its bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project to gain Track 1 status. Without this, Drax Power Station "may become unviable", and unable to contribute secure power at a time of such critical need.
This led to Drax's decision to pause its multi-million pound investment programme in the BECCS project at Drax Power Station.
At times with the tightest margins, Drax said its biomass units provide up to 11% of total GB electricity generation and up to 70% of the renewable generation. The loss of Drax’s and other biomass units from the GB electricity system would further reduce the country’s dispatchable capacity to 80% of peak demand (from the already forecasted fall to 85%), increasing reliance on gas and power imports, generation from intermittent renewables, and increasing costs for consumers.
This led to Drax's decision to pause its multi-million pound investment programme in the BECCS project at Drax Power Station.
The news comes as business consultant firm Baringa produced new research on behalf of Drax showing, that in the late 2020s, biomass generation could play an increasingly critical role in ensuring security of UK energy supply.
The research indicated that, by 2027, peak demand for GB electricity will increase by 4GW but at the same time the imminent closure of coal, older gas generation and nuclear power stations will remove up to 6.3GW of secure capacity from the grid.
This would mean that the dispatchable capacity that supports GB energy security will fall from 93% to 85% at times of peak demand, increasing the risk of a supply shortfall.
The system would therefore need to rely on other forms of capacity, such as electricity interconnectors and intermittent renewable generation like wind or solar, to make up the 15% difference at times of peak demand, or steps may need to be taken to reduce consumption such as through voluntary demand reduction or forced turndown.
Drax’s power station in Yorkshire is currently the largest provider of dispatchable power to the GB electricity system, as well as being one of the only renewable sources of secure supply. Its renewable biomass generation provides 2.6GW of electricity, supplying millions of homes and businesses with dispatchable, reliable power.
The research also found that, by 2027, no established technology can feasibly replace the security of supply provided by Drax’s 2.6GW of biomass capacity, without significantly increasing carbon emissions and relying more on imported fossil fuel from Europe.
It goes on to state that meeting decarbonisation targets without the carbon removals provided by Drax’s BECCS units will be more expensive and difficult and would require accelerating decarbonisation in challenging sectors such as heating, industry and road transport.
Drax CEO Will Gardiner said: “Whilst we welcome the government’s ambition to invest billions in carbon capture and storage, we need a firm commitment to BECCS before we commit to investing £2bn (€2.2bn) into installing this technology at Drax Power Station.
“Until we have this clarity, we are pausing our multi-million pound investment programme in the UK BECCS project and urge government to use the planned announcement at the end of the month to outline their support for this. Any further delays to this project could impact the UK’s security of supply, net zero and levelling-up ambitions and the viability of Drax Power Station.”

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