• Drax drops plan for Europe’s largest single gas-fired plant, but pushes on with BECCS units

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

UK power utility Drax is to push ahead with plans to install bioenergy with carbon capture and storage at two of its units at its Selby plant, after shelving plans to build what would have become Europe’s largest gas-fired power station. Selby has six units, four of which have been converted to fire biomass, and the other two, which still fire coal – though not for much longer – were to be converted to fire gas, with a total capacity of 3.6 GW. The company had already reduced that down to 1.8 GW, but after pressure from environmental campaigners and uncertainty regarding securing a contract for the power from units has now shelved the gas conversion plans at Selby altogether, especially after selling four existing smaller gas-fired plants to a subsidiary of Vitol. However, it is separately considering building four open cycle gas turbines, capable of rapid start-ups and shut downs, at sites in Wales, Bedfordshire and Suffolk, though the development of these, too, will be dependent on obtaining contracts.

Drax plans to have its first BECCS unit up and running by 2027, followed by a second in 2029, and will apply for permission as a first step. It foresees carbon capture of up to 95% of produced carbon dioxide when the units are ready, which would unquestionably make it a ‘negative emissions’ operation, something the UK government is keen on achieving, and something that many other countries are also looking to be doing.