UK Biomass Plant Starts Groundbreaking Carbon Capture Project
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.
We’re focused on working together to make the progress required for us to tackle #climatechange and enable a zero-c… https://t.co/627dLMT9l5— Will Gardiner (@Will Gardiner)1549622771.0
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.
Paris Climate Goals Can Be Reached Without Carbon Capture Tech, Landmark Study Finds https://t.co/MaHQC674td @UCSUSA @NRDC @ClimateReality— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528227621.0
By Jessica Corbett
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.
<div id="a420d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5369c498a5855fe2143b86fa07e23dff"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1364300806988652548" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨🚨🚨 Bernie Sanders voted against Tom Vilsack's nomination. It's great to see the Senator stick to his principles a… https://t.co/u4XNU4viNC</div> — RootsAction (@RootsAction)<a href="https://twitter.com/Roots_Action/statuses/1364300806988652548">1614109634.0</a></blockquote></div>
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MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann / CC BY 2.0<p>If equipped with vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-building technology, those cars, buses and trucks could prove invaluable during future blackouts. People could rely on their cars to power their houses. Municipalities, transit agencies and school districts could send out their fleets to the areas most in need. We could power homes, shelters and emergency response centers — and could keep people warm, healthy and comfortable until power could be restored.</p><p>But to add this great resiliency tool to our arsenal in times of extreme weather, we must significantly increase the number of EVs on the road. In 2019 electric cars accounted for only about <a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/articles/fotw-1136-june-1-2020-plug-vehicle-sales-accounted-about-2-all-light-duty" target="_blank">2%</a> of all light-duty vehicle sales in the country. Electric buses and trucks are becoming more common in the United States, but still only represent a tiny fraction of the fleet. As it stands now, the EVs currently on the road, even if equipped with vehicle-to-grid technology, would do little to help a broad swath of the population in need of power.</p>
A line of electric cars at charging stations. Andrew Bone / CC BY 2.0
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