The controversial move sees continued burning of woodchips imported from North America, with carbon emissions removed and buried under the North Sea. Drax Power Station currently has four biomass generating units and produces around four per cent of the country’s power and nine per cent of its renewable electricity. Today’s approval is seen by Drax as a major milestone in its £2 billion BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) project. Drax says BECCS will remove eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year and boost energy security. If BECCS is fully implemented some 10,000 highly-skilled jobs would be created at the height of its construction. Savings to the UK economy of £15billion between 2030 and 2050 are also promised, according to management consultants Baringa. The report, commissioned by Drax, said: “Drax provides the only credible option for large-scale, near-term carbon removals – converting two boiler units would remove 8m tonnes of CO2 a year, roughly equivalent to cancelling all departing flights from Heathrow for a year.” 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 eight 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.” Today’s decision comes as the energy secretary Claire Coutinho is also expected to allow further taxpayer subsidy for Drax, which last year saw it receive £617 million from our energy bills. Several conservation groups oppose BECCS because it uses wood chips for fuel. They also oppose the use of subsidies for something they believe is environmentally damaging. The think tank Ember has calculated that extending Drax’s subsidies to 2030 will add more than £4 billion to energy bills on top of the £10.4 billion Drax is expected to receive by 2027. If subsidies are extended to 2035 that could cost bill payers £12.4 billion more, bringing the total subsidy bill to £22.8 billion by 2035. It also means the UK will continue to burn millions of trees every year from all over the world. Such a way of generating power saw Drax face scrutiny from a BBC Panorama programme last year. Ofgem, the energy regulator, is also investigating how Drax is reporting its sustainability. Can’t embed the link.
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