Europe's first bioenergy carbon capture project to assist drinks sector
Energy group Drax has announced that it is in talks with the British Beer & Pub Association to explore whether the CO2 captured during its bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project could be used to tackle CO2 shortages in the beverage industry.
The £400,000 trial, which Drax is undertaking at its North Yorkshire power station, could make the renewable electricity produced at the facility carbon-negative if it is successful. But, Drax announced on Friday (August 10) that the programme and could also capture and store enough CO2 to add fizz to 32,000 pints a day.
The six-month trial is due to start this autumn. C-Capture - a spin-out from the University of Leeds – has developed technology to isolate the carbon dioxide produced by the biomass combustion. Drax estimates that the unit will capture and store at least a tonne of CO2 each day - enough to carbonate 5.7 million pints of beer over the six-month period.
The talks between Drax and the British Beer & Pub Association come as a response to the major CO2 distribution problems across the UK and mainland Europe this summer. At least five major European CO2 producers, which sell the gas to drinks manufacturers, went offline for maintenance.
“We’re excited to be discussing our BECCS project with the British Beer & Pub Association,” Drax’s chief executive, Will Gardiner, said. “This pilot not only has the potential to ensure the UK meets its climate targets, but for the carbon captured to also help to keep the nation’s beer from going flat – and we’d certainly raise a glass to that.”
If the trial proves successful, Drax has confirmed it will look into scaling up the CCS technology to capture more CO2 from the power station in future, with a view to sending the captured carbon to be used as a resource by corporates in other industries. The firm also said that the pilot scheme “could be the first of several”.
Drax previously signed up for a £1bn CCS competition fund but pulled out in 2015 after then-Chancellor George Osborne axed the development competition.
Its latest foray into CCS has been praised by Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, who said the trial could help the UK meet its Industrial Strategy aim of becoming a world leader in CCS.
“It’s hugely exciting that Drax has chosen to invest in this innovative project, demonstrating how government support for innovation can create an environment where companies can develop new technologies and scale up investment to build the sectors we will need to achieve long-term decarbonisation,” Perry added.
CCS is the most cost-effective way of meeting climate change targets and needs to be deployed sooner rather than later, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The organisation has previously highlighted that the UK has "more than enough" potential CCS sites to meet legally binding 2050 carbon targets in a cost-effective manner, which apparently could save up to £2bn annually throughout the 2020s.
The ETI additionally estimates that BECCS could deliver roughly 55 million tonnes of net negative emissions a year in the UK – approximately half the nation’s emissions target – by the 2050s.