UK's Drax starts pilot of Europe’s first bioenergy carbon capture project

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Drax has started a pilot project to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions at its biomass plant, the first of its kind in Europe, Drax said on Monday.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) involves the capture of emissions from power plants and industry to allow them to be stored underground or compressed in containers to be used for industrial applications such as making drinks fizzy.

The technology is also likely to be needed to help limit a rise in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a recent U.N. report.

Drax said using the technology at the plant in North Yorkshire, England, that burns biomass - wood pellets, often made from compressed sawdust – could enable the company to operate the world’s first carbon negative power station.

When coupled with CCS, the overall process of generating electricity from biomass removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it releases, the company said.

“If successful, the six-month pilot project will capture a ton of CO2 (carbon dioxide) a day from the gases produced when renewable power is generated,” Drax said in a statement.

Drax said the CO2 will initially be stored on site but that eventually it will seek to find a use for the gas, such as in the drinks industry which earlier this year was hit with a CO2 shortage.

Britain has a target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2050, but has asked its climate change experts to advise on whether it should set a date to meet a net zero emissions target.

A report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October warned not meeting the goal to limit rising temperatures at 1.5 degrees would mean huge changes to the world such as rising sea levels, life-threatening heat and loss of species.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Adrian Croft