Drax is set to commence a pilot bioenergy carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at its plant in Yorkshire, northern England.

The company said in a statement that the $538,880 project is the first of its kind in Europe and will examine the potential of capturing carbon dioxide from bioenergy sources, effectively removing the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.
Drax biomass plant
Drax, which generates about 6 percent of Britain’s electricity, has converted three of its previously coal-fired units to biomass power plants that use wood pellets, often made from compressed sawdust. A fourth conversion will be complete by the end of the year.

Conventional CCS captures carbon dioxide from power plants fired by coal and other fossil fuels and stores it underground, but the technology is still small scale and very costly.

In bioenergy CCS (BECCS), the plants or trees used to produce biomass soak up carbon from the atmosphere as they grow. When the biomass is combusted to produce energy, the carbon is released into the atmosphere but there are no new net carbon emissions.

However, if bioenergy is combined with CCS, the carbon dioxide is not released but is stored underground or deep under the seabed, thereby resulting in negative net emissions.

The company said this could be the first of several BECCS projects, with the initial phase starting this month and, depending on the outcome of a feasibility study, the second phase could begin before the end of the year.