A NORTH Yorkshire energy plant has cut its carbon emissions from power generation by more than 90 per cent - cementing its place as one of Europe's lowest carbon utilities.

Drax Group said today it was moving it closer to achieving its ambition to be carbon negative by 2030.

Once the biggest coal fired power station in Western Europe, Drax has now slashed its CO2 emissions from power generation by over 90 percent since 2012, transforming the company.

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Using sustainable biomass and hydro, in the first half of 2021 Drax became a purely renewable power generator, producing 12 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity - enough to power over five million homes and support the deployment of intermittent renewables such as wind and solar.

By deploying bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) at the power station, Drax is set to go even further – generating the negative emissions needed to meet the UK’s net zero climate target while delivering jobs and clean growth in the North.

As Drax announces its half-year financial results today, Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group, said: “We have had a great first half of the year, transforming Drax into the world’s leading sustainable biomass generation and supply company as well as the UK’s largest generator of renewable power.

“The business has performed well, and we have exciting growth opportunities to support the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Drax has reduced its generation emissions by over 90 per cent, and we are very proud to be one of the lowest carbon intensity power generators in Europe – a huge transformation for a business which less than a decade ago operated the largest coal power station in Western Europe.

“In the past six months we have significantly advanced our plans for Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in the UK and globally.

"By 2030 Drax could be delivering millions of tonnes of negative emissions and leading the world in providing a critical technology needed to tackle the climate crisis.

“We are pleased to be announcing a 10 per cent increase in our dividend, and we remain committed to creating long-term value for all our stakeholders.”

In the first half of the year Drax progressed its plans for BECCS - selecting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as its technology partner and kickstarting the planning process to develop BECCS at Drax this decade.

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It also started to explore overseas opportunities for BECCS with Bechtel, including in North America, and next generation BECCS technologies with Phoenix BioPower, creating further potential opportunities for the UK to export a critical technology that will be needed around the world.

Subject to the right government support, the first BECCS unit at Drax Power Station could be operational in 2027 with a second in 2030, permanently removing at least 8 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

It would be the world’s largest carbon capture power project, delivering a significant proportion of the negative emissions the UK needs to meet its climate targets.

In a pivotal six months for the company, Drax also secured additional biomass production capacity and reduced costs through the acquisition of Canadian biomass producer Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.

Drax is now the world’s leading integrated sustainable biomass generation and supply business, with access to global markets from Europe to the Far East.

Mr Gardiner said that cutting Drax’s CO2 emissions by more than 90 per cent in under a decade was 'a unique achievement' which was transformational for the business and the environment.

“Replacing fossil fuels with clean power from renewables like sustainable biomass and hydro has enabled the UK’s electricity system to decarbonise faster than any other major economy, but industry needs to go further than just reducing emissions - to permanently removing the CO2 in the atmosphere, if the UK is to achieve its ambitious climate targets.

“By deploying BECCS, Drax will be leading the way in permanently removing millions of tonnes of CO2 while generating renewable power and supporting clean growth and thousands of jobs in the 2020s.

“BECCS is the only technology available now which can deliver the negative emissions the world needs to meet the climate commitments set out in Paris in 2015, whilst also generating the reliable renewable electricity the world needs.”