Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

UK Biomass Plant Starts Groundbreaking Carbon Capture Project

Energy
UK Biomass Plant Starts Groundbreaking Carbon Capture Project
Biomass storage at Drax power station in North Yorkshire. Chris Allen

For the first time, carbon dioxide is being captured at a biomass power plant in the UK.

Britain's Drax announced that its pilot bioenergy carbon capture and storage project is expected to capture a ton of CO2 a day from its North Yorkshire-based wood-burning plant. The company is also finding ways to store and use the captured carbon.


"This innovative technology has the potential to make huge strides in our efforts to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new cutting-edge industry in the UK," Britain's energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said in a press release.

If everything goes to plan, Drax hopes that by scaling up the technology—developed by Leeds-based C-Capture—it can enable the creation of negative-emission biomass power plants, meaning the facilities can remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it generates.

The BBC explained how such plants can go negative:

When a forest grows, the trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make their wood.

If you burn that wood, the process doesn't emit any extra CO2 into the atmosphere—because the trees removed it from the air in the first place. It's called carbon neutral.

If you go one step further by capturing the CO2 from wood burning, you're actually reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere overall.

Proponents of carbon capture and storage or CCS, tout it as a way to help stop global temperature rise. Power companies are investing in this technology to trap CO2 on site and prevent the heat-trapping gases from being released into the air. One day, the captured and stored carbon can be repurposed.

For instance, Drax said in its press release that it is in discussions with the British Beer and Pub Association to see if it could use the carbon captured in its pilot to help keep the fizz in the carbonated drinks.

However, critics say the nascent technology is too expensive to implement on a large scale for it to be commercially viable.

"One way to reduce coal's impact is to capture, compress and bury its emissions—but it's much simpler, cheaper and safer to simply leave the coal in the ground," Simon Holmes à Court, a senior adviser to the Energy Transition Hub at Melbourne University, wrote in the Guardian.

Another drawback of "bioenergy carbon capture and storage" projects, like the one at Drax, is the massive quantities of crops being burned for power. Every year, Drax's biomass plant burns about 7 million metric tons of wood chips—mostly from trees grown in the U.S.—to generate 6 percent of the UK's electricity, according to the BBC.

Although trees are technically renewable, growing them requires an abundance of land. Cutting them down also negatively impacts the wildlife that depend on the trees.

"We must be cautious of technologies that aim to remediate the carbon problem while greatly expanding our impact on the land," Harvard University professor David Keith warned to the BBC.

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plastic waste is bulldozed at a landfill. Needpix

The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.

Read More Show Less

Trending

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less
A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less
In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch