The energy company Drax has declared their intention to become the world’s first carbon-negative business within the next decade. This is despite the firm having once been labelled Western Europe’s biggest polluter thanks to the firm’s coal power origins.
Drax’s owner revealed plans to absorb more carbon emissions from the air than it creates by 2030. This follows Drax’s plan to turn their notorious pollution-producing plant in North Yorkshire into a pioneering renewable energy generation site.
From Coal Fire Giant to Green Energy Pioneer
The Chief Executive of Drax, Will Gardiner, said: “Drax’s ambition is to be carbon negative by 2030. Having pioneered the use of sustainable biomass, Drax now produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity. With the right negative emissions policy we can do much more, removing millions of tonnes of emissions from the atmosphere each year.
“The UK government is working on a policy and investment framework to encourage negative emissions technologies, which will enable the UK to be home to the world’s first carbon negative company.”
“bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCs) would be critical to avoiding a climate crisis”
Mr Gardiner added that he believed bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCs) would be critical to avoiding a climate crisis. He also stated his belief that BECCs would help create a sustainable economy.
Drax Joins Carbon Neutral Humber Alliance
Drax are part of an alliance of Humber-based firms that intend to make the region carbon neutral. They plan to achieve this by capturing carbon from factories while encouraging low-carbon hydrogen producers. Humber has historically been one of the UK’s most pollution-creating industrial areas.
They hope their plan will safeguard thousands of manufacturing jobs. It should also produce enough hydrogen to help the UK stop using high-carbon gas.
BECCs Not Without Criticism
The bioenergy with carbon capture technology has been hit with some criticism. There are several international academics and environmentalists who have warned that there remain doubts about the carbon accounting of BECCs. Other concerns centre on whether the carbon capture process can be sped up. Such critical analysis highlights the problem of slow progress restricting the full benefits of bioenergy.
A report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College, London, stated that BECCs may even increase short term carbon emissions. This can happen when a project transfers the environmental risk from the air into the land. The institute’s report claimed there were uncertainties over the “actual carbon removal potential of BECCs”.
Another report from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation revealed burning biomass for energy could create a “double climate” problem. This could occur as the rate of burning biomass without carbon capture will be faster than the regrowth of trees. The trees are needed to absorb the carbon, with their slower growth meaning emissions will actually rise faster.
The Packard Foundation report found that extensive biomass production could lead to more deforestation and degradation of the land. Obviously this too would heavily contribute to rising climate emissions.
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