BECCS and negative emissions - Drax

Bioenergy with carbon capture, use and storage (BECCS) and negative emissions

The UK needs negative emissions technologies to meet its 2050 net zero target to help combat the global climate crisis.

Negative emissions are a vital part of a solution that also includes decarbonising all sectors of the economy, deploying more renewables, hydrogen and electric vehicles (EVs) as well as improving energy efficiency.

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is the most scalable negative emissions technology available today to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

We are trialling BECCS at Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire and consulting the public on our proposals.

BECCS delivers a triple benefit:

  1. Negative emissions essential for fighting the climate crisis
  2. Clean economic growth — preserving and creating jobs
  3. Reliable renewable electricity to support the grid as more wind and solar are connected

Our BECCS projects and partnerships

Capture technologies

We began to pilot the first bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project of its kind in Europe at Drax Power Station in October 2018.

The pilot project with C-Capture technology captured its first carbon at the UK’s largest renewable power station in early 2019.

A second BECCS pilot facility, installed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) within the North Yorkshire power plant’s carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) incubation area in autumn 2020, enhances Drax’s technical understanding for delivering negative emissions.

Graphic showing how carbon is captured from an emissions source

Pre-FEED services

We’re working with Worley which will provide pre-FEED services for two biomass-to-BECCS unit upgrades. The contract includes development of plant layout, cost estimation and schedules for FEED, detailed engineering, procurement and construction.

Zero carbon cluster

Becoming the world’s first carbon negative power station would also make Drax a hub of the UK’s first zero carbon industrial cluster – known as Zero Carbon Humber, helping to decarbonise the North of England.

Infographic showing what a Zero Carbon Cluster could look like in the Humber region

Carbon recycling

Drax Power Station’s CCUS incubation area also hosts a feasibility study investigating how carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be captured and used to make proteins for sustainable animal feed products.

How to turn CO2 into fish food

The feasibility study is part of REACT-FIRST, an initiative obtaining critical data about a new single-cell protein used in fish and poultry feed that is set to sustainably transform the UK’s aquaculture and poultry industries.

Another CCUS project explored the feasibility of using molten carbonate fuel cells as a technology for capturing CO2, while producing power and supplying the greenhouse gas to a neighbouring horticultural site to improve crop yields.

Carbon negative

In December 2019, we announced a world-leading ambition to become a carbon negative company by 2030.

Our ambition is only achievable with an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework. The UK Government is developing those as part of its global leadership in addressing the climate crisis.

The Coalition for Negative Emissions

The Coalition for Negative Emissions was formed in October 2020 by a diverse range of organisations, including Drax. CNE members have a shared vision: to build back better as part of a sustainable and resilient recovery from Covid-19, by developing pioneering projects that can remove CO2 and other pollutants from the atmosphere.

Drax BECCS timeline

With an effective negative emissions policy and investment framework from government we could deploy bioenergy with carbon capture use and storage (BECCS) on two of our biomass generating units by 2030.

  • 2019: Drax BECCS pilot (with C-Capture) started capturing CO2 in world first with 100% biomass feedstock
  • 2020: Second Drax pilot (with MHI) to capture CO2 from biomass feedstock installed in the autumn
  • 2021: Environmental scoping and two rounds of public consultation
  • 2022: Submission of development consent order (DCO) application
  • 2024: Construction of first two BECCS units underway at Drax Power Station
  • 2027: BECCS technology installed on at least one biomass generating unit at Drax
  • 2030: BECCS installed on two biomass units and Drax Group becomes a carbon negative company
  • 2040: Humber industrial cluster achieves zero carbon status


Discover more about CCUS, BECCS and negative emissions

  • 5 projects proving carbon capture is a reality

    From capture methods to storage and use across three continents, these companies are showing promising results for CCUS
  • A tour of Drax's innovative CO2 capture pilot

    How we are trialling ground-breaking CCS technology at Drax Power Station in a bid to achieve negative emissions
  • At the heart of the energy transition

    Drax CEO Will Gardiner addresses Chatham House Energy Transitions conference
  • Baringa report for Drax: Value of Biomass with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in Power [April 2021]

    Report by Baringa for Drax [2021]
  • Building back better by supporting negative emissions technologies

  • Can carbon capture take the UK beyond net zero?

    The story of how carbon removal can transform industries and prevent climate change
  • Capturing carbon emissions from the atmosphere could transform these industries

    How algae, paper and cement could all have a role in a future of negative emissions
  • Capturing Carbon at Drax - Delivering Jobs, Clean Growth, and Levelling Up the Humber [Vivid Economics, November 2020, updated March 2021]

  • Capture For Growth

    A roadmap for the world’s first zero carbon industrial cluster: protecting and creating jobs, fighting climate change, competing on the world stage
  • Could turning carbon dioxide into fish food feed the future?

    Can we tackle two global challenges with one solution?
  • From steel to soil – how industries are capturing carbon

    The power industry is leading the charge in carbon capture and storage but where else could the technology make a difference to global emissions?
  • From Yorkshire, for the world

    Our cutting-edge carbon removal technologies will help the UK, and the world, hit net zero.
  • How do you store CO2 and what happens to it when you do?

    The science of safely and permanently putting carbon in the ground
  • If the world wants a green recovery, it must commit to innovation

    Negative emissions technologies are critical for the earth’s climate and hitting net zero in the UK, argues Drax CEO Will Gardiner
  • It’s time to look to the North

    Discover the power of Carbon Capture by Drax
  • Jobs, skills, zero emissions – the economic need for carbon capture by Drax

  • Laying down the pathway to carbon capture in a net zero UK

    The numbers must add up to enable negative emissions in a zero carbon future, says Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner
  • Standing together against climate change

  • Supporting the deployment of Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in the UK: business model options [April 2021]

    A Frontier Economics report for Drax [2021]
  • Negative emissions techniques and technologies you need to know about

    Planting, sinking, extracting – some of the ways to absorb carbon from the atmosphere
  • The UK needs negative emissions from BECCS to reach net zero – here’s why

    Why experts think bioenergy with carbon capture and storage will be an essential part of the energy system
  • The policy needed to save the future

    How the UK can achieve net zero
  • What can be made from captured carbon?

    Transforming emissions from pollutants to products
  • What are negative emissions?

    Everything you need to know about removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • What is carbon capture usage and storage?

    Everything you need to know about carbon capture usage and storage
  • What is a fuel cell and how will they help power the future?

    From NASA to carbon capture, chemical reactions could have a big future in electricity
  • Zoom in on Net Zero - with Drax CCS head Karl Smyth

    Head of carbon capture and storage strategy & engagement at Drax joins BusinessGreen editor in chief James Murray

Press releases

  • 12 April 2021 - Achieving UK climate goals is £4.5bn cheaper with BECCS at Drax

  • 17 March 2021 - £75 million bid win for Zero Carbon Humber’s net zero ambition

  • 17 March 2021 - Funding secured to accelerate development of UK’s first decarbonised industrial clusters on the east coast of England

  • 1 March 2021 - Drax kickstarts application process to build vital negative emissions technology

  • 17 July 2020 - Ground-breaking carbon recycling project launches with £3million Innovate UK funding

  • 24 June 2020 - Negative emissions pioneer Drax and leading global carbon capture company - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group - announce new BECCS pilot

  • 30 January 2020 - Negative emissions pioneer Drax announces new CCUS projects during Energy Minister’s visit

  • 10 December 2019 - Drax sets world-first ambition to become carbon negative by 2030

  • 5 November 2019 - Zero Carbon Humber roadmap published to protect jobs and make major contribution to UK's climate goals

  • 9 September 2019 - Zero Carbon Humber campaign launched to develop the world’s first zero carbon economy and decarbonise the North of England

  • 27 June 2019 - Drax secures £500,000 for innovative fuel cell carbon capture study

  • 27 June 2019 - £5m Boost to scale up ground-breaking carbon capture pilot at Drax, UK’s largest power station

  • 17 June 2019 - New carbon capture technology could help industry and agricultural sector decarbonise

  • 28 May 2019 - Leading energy companies announce new zero-carbon UK partnership

  • 7 February 2019 - Carbon dioxide now being captured in first of its kind BECCS pilot

  • 4 February 2019 - C-Capture raises £3.5m in funding round led by BP, Drax and IP Group

  • 26 November 2018 - Europe’s first bioenergy carbon capture and storage pilot now underway

  • 10 August 2018 - Drax could help keep the fizz in the drinks sector

  • 21 May 2018 - Drax to pilot Europe’s first carbon capture storage project

Carbon Removal Resources