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16 Jan 2024

UK Government approves planning application for BECCS at Drax Power Station

Drax Group
UK Government approves planning application for BECCS at Drax Power Station

The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, has today approved the Development Consent Order (the DCO) for Drax Power Limited’s (Drax) plans to convert two of its biomass units at Drax Power Station to the carbon removals technology bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Drax Power Station currently has four biomass generating units and produces around 4% of the country’s power and 9% of its renewable electricity.

The DCO is a milestone for the project, providing planning consent for its development. BECCS is currently the only credible large-scale technology that can both deliver carbon removals and generate renewable power. Drax’s BECCS plans will enable Drax Power Station to continue to play a critical role in supporting UK energy security and would enable it to remove approximately 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year when both units are fully operational.

Recent Baringa analysis found that delivering BECCS at Drax Power Station could, if implemented, save the UK £15bn in whole economy costs between 2030 and 2050 providing a more efficient, cost effective and straightforward pathway to meeting Net Zero targets than other potential options.

Drax Group’s plans to invest billions in its BECCS plans, subject to the right support from the UK Government. This could deliver up to 10,000 high-skilled jobs in the Humber at the peak of the project’s construction as well as safeguarding 7,000 direct and supply chain jobs.  Drax’s Group’s ambition is to source up to 80% of the materials and services it needs to develop BECCS in the UK from British businesses.

Will Gardiner, CEO Drax Group, said:

“The DCO approval is another milestone in the development of our BECCS plans, and demonstrates both the continued role that Drax Power Station has in delivering UK energy security and the critical role it could have in delivering large-scale carbon dioxide removals to meet Net Zero targets.

“We look forward to working with our supply chain and other partners over the coming years on the project which, when fully operational, will deliver secure renewable power and approximately 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide removals per year.

“We welcome the ongoing development of policy support for BECCS and the anticipated launch of a consultation on a bridging mechanism for biomass generators to take them from the end of current renewable schemes through to BECCS operations.”

Selby MP Keir Mather welcomed the news noting the impact the announcement will have on the future of jobs in the local area:

“I’m very pleased to see that Drax have today secured planning permission to progress towards BECCS here in my constituency.

As well as being a key local employer providing and securing hundreds of jobs in the Selby area, Drax will play a crucial role in Britain’s decarbonisation with this technology. I’m delighted that their almost 1000-strong workforce can now look forward with confidence following this news.”

Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said:

“This announcement is a major step forward for continuing the progress towards the decarbonised grid we need to reach net zero, with reliability and certainty to meet the needs of consumers and businesses. The project will unlock millions of pounds of contract opportunities for businesses across the North, as well as creating thousands of jobs, and cement the region’s place as the centre of UK energy security.”

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