Drax: Energy companies announce new zero-carbon UK partnership

By Drax Group | May 29, 2019

Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing them to work together to explore how a large-scale carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) network and a hydrogen production facility could be constructed in the Humber in the mid-2020s.

This is the first significant action from industry since the U.K. Committee on Climate Change recently published its Net Zero report, which found that CCUS and hydrogen technology developed in regional industrial clusters is essential if Great Britain is going to achieve a “net zero” carbon economy by 2050.

The partnership could lead to the Humber becoming the world’s first net zero carbon region and home to a new world leading hydrogen economy.

Commenting on the partnership, Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said, “The Committee on Climate Change was clear—the U.K. needs both bioenergy with CCS and hydrogen production at scale by 2030 to achieve a ‘net zero’ carbon economy. 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 U.K.—it has the skills, industrial capability as well as offshore storage to transform itself into a cutting-edge low carbon hub.”

Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing, said, “As a global leader in CCS and a major gas supplier to the U.K. for many decades, we are committed to helping shape sustainable solutions for a low carbon future.

“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 U.K. 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.”

Jon Butterworth, chief operating cfficer, global transmission, for National Grid Ventures, said, “We all agree that we must act now to start delivering a ‘net-zero’ carbon economy. That’s why we’re delighted to be working together with Equinor and Drax. This is a project of great potential for the U.K. and the Humber region and we look forward to leveraging our skills and expertise to enable this transition.

“We have seen rapid progress in decarbonizing energy through established technologies such as wind power, solar and electricity interconnectors. CCUS and hydrogen create a new pathway to greater decarbonization of the energy system and provide a platform for decarbonizing other areas of our economy, which will be to the benefit of current and future generations.”

The three companies will work together to:

    • Explore the opportunity to scale-up the innovative bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot project at the Drax Power Station in order to create the world’s first carbon negative power station in the 2020s.

    • Explore the potential development of a large-scale hydrogen demonstrator within the Drax site by as early as the mid-2020s—in line with the CCC’s recommendation that hydrogen should be produced at scale in at least one industrial cluster by 2030.

    • Explore the strategic opportunities in developing a cutting-edge hydrogen economy in the region.