Drax’s biomass policy meets highest sustainability standards

By Drax | February 14, 2020

An Independent Advisory Board, led by former U.K. government chief scientific adviser Sir John Beddington, was appointed by Drax in October when it published a strengthened sourcing policy to ensure the biomass it uses to produce 12 percent of Britain’s renewable electricity meets the highest sustainability standards.

In its first report the IAB has found that Drax’s sustainable biomass sourcing reflects the recommendations made by Forest Research—the research agency of the Forestry Commission, which is widely considered to be the industry gold standard.

“The work of the IAB is vital in guiding and challenging us to be as sustainable and transparent as we can be,” said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO. “I am reassured to know that our existing policies reflect the Forestry Commission’s recommendations and we’ll continue to work with the board to strive for greater excellence across our operations. We recently announced our ambition to become the world’s first carbon-negative company by using sustainable biomass with carbon capture and storage technology. To achieve this, we need to go further in our efforts to lead the world on biomass sustainability standards, positively contributing to our climate, the environment and the communities in which we operate.”

The IAB also recommended consideration is given to a review of existing evidence on sustainable biomass to advance understanding among academics, policy makers and environmental groups.

Such a “restatement of evidence” would be aimed at fostering agreement amongst scientists and environmental groups on the role of sustainable biomass, sharing information with third parties on Drax’s operations and using scientific evidence to identify points of agreement, disagreement and areas which need further study.

The IAB’s chair John Beddington said, “It’s a complex area to navigate and if some common ground based on the scientific evidence can be agreed, it creates a framework to help ensure the right types of biomass are used which make the greatest contribution towards addressing the climate emergency.”

The U.K.’s Committee on Climate Change has said that biomass will play a critical role in achieving the U.K.’s 2050 net zero target.

The IAB, which meets twice a year, will produce a written report of its conclusions and recommendations for Drax after its meetings, and a summary of these will be published on the Drax website. The IAB held its first meeting Nov. 15, 2019.