British electrical power generation company Drax Group announced Monday it will partner with Norwegian energy company Equinor and National Grid Ventures on the United Kingdom’s first zero carbon cluster in Humber built around a large-scale carbon capture usage and storage network and a hydrogen production facility.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the three companies, committing them to work together to explore the possibility of developing a large-scale carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) network and the potential development of a large-scale hydrogen demonstrator. The consortium of companies are looking to scale-up the bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot project at the Drax Power Station in an effort to create the world’s first carbon negative power station in the 2020s, while the hydrogen demonstrator could be developed as early as the mid-2020s.
“The Committee on Climate Change was clear – the UK needs both bioenergy with CCS and hydrogen production at scale by 2030 to achieve a ‘net zero’ carbon economy,” said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO. “This partnership is committed to meeting this challenge putting Great Britain at the heart of the global energy revolution.
“With Drax’s carbon negative power station, the Humber region could lead the world in new technologies that can deliver for the climate and the economy, helping to create a cleaner environment for future generations whilst creating new jobs and export opportunities for British businesses.
“We’re excited to be working with National Grid Ventures and Equinor on this project – for decades the Humber has been a strategically important industrial cluster for the UK – it has the skills, industrial capability as well as offshore storage to transform itself into a cutting-edge low carbon hub.”
Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, in the Humber region located in the north of England, is already capturing a tonne of carbon dioxide each day through its bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot project. Drax believes that, if this project was scaled-up, it could serve as the “anchor” for a regional CCUS network capturing millions of tonnes of carbon each year from nearly industrial emitters.
Already the biggest renewable generator in the UK with its 3,906 MW Drax Power Station — which produces around 18 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power a year, 75% using compressed wood pellets, and which is also the largest decarbonization project in Europe — the Drax Power Station supplies 12% of the UK’s renewable power. Already four of its six power generation units have been upgraded from burning coal to using biomass. Drax also runs the Cruachan Power Station, completed at the end of 2018, and one of only four pumped hydro storage stations in the UK with a capacity of 440 MW — enough to power more than 90,000 homes. Drax also runs several hydro-electric power stations and four combined cycle gas turbine power stations.
Equinor, on the other hand, is an oil and gas company seeking to develop low-carbon technologies, with an ambition to being the world’s most carbon-efficient oil and gas producer, as well as a driver of innovation in offshore wind and renewables. “As a global leader in CCS and a major gas supplier to the UK for many decades, we are committed to helping shape sustainable solutions for a low carbon future,” added Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Drax and National Grid Ventures in looking at how the Humber region can be a launch pad for wider decarbonisation in the UK economy and be an example for others to learn from. Globally we must see substantial decarbonisation of industry and energy in the years ahead, and we believe CCS and hydrogen must play a significant role in this.”
The plans could ultimately deliver the UK’s first zero carbon cluster, creating the world’s first net-zero carbon region in the Humber and home to a world-leading hydrogen economy. The three companies will publish a study outlining the technical, economic, and societal opportunities for CCUS and hydrogen in the Humber region by the end of the year.