UK government opens public consultation on BECSS strategy

By Erin Voegele | August 11, 2022

The U.K. government on Aug. 11 launched a consultation on how to support the development of bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) projects in the U.K. over the next decade.

The consultation seeks views on how the government can help attract private investment to accelerate the development of BECSS, to help boost Britain’s energy security, while also supporting new job opportunities. As part of that effort, the consultation seeks input on the government’s early proposals, including main design elements of the business model across electricity generation, payment terms, carbon capture and biomass sustainability and negative emissions requirements.

The U.S. Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) has spoken out in support of the consultation. “Today’s publication of the Power Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (Power BECCS) consultation is an important step forward that further demonstrates the U.K.’s global leadership in seeing this innovative technology delivered,” said Mark Sommerfeld, head of power and flexibility at the REA. “Delivery of a viable route to market will allow the U.K. bioenergy sector to realize commercial scale negative emissions, identified as having a critical role to play in Net Zero scenarios spelled out by the Climate Change Committee, National Grid ESO and IPCC.

“The business model also underlines the importance of the U.K.’s bioenergy sector today. It is the biomass sectors supply chains, expertise and existing assets that have already significantly contributed to helping decarbonize U.K. energy demands,” he continued. “The sector stands ready to build on this to see BECCS delivered in the next crucial phase of net zero decarbonization.

“In addition, existing sustainability governance regulation will provide the foundations for ensuring that biomass feedstocks used in BECCS are produced and used sustainably,” Sommerfeld added. “The U.K. has some of the tightest governance arrangements in the world, ensuring emissions are monitored across supply chains; that feedstocks are produced from by-products from sustainably managed forests and that sector activities remain closely regulated.

“The REA and its members look forward to working with government to help design the Power BECCS Business Model, ensuring this crucial sector is delivered.”

Drax Group plc, which is in the process of developing a BECSS project at Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, is also applauding the consultation. “The government is paving the way for the U.K. to lead the world in deploying vital carbon removal technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS),” said Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group. “This could kick start a whole new sector of the economy, creating green growth on an even greater scale than we have seen in the U.K. previously with renewables like wind and solar.

“BECCS is vital to energy security and net zero because it can produce reliable renewable power whilst also permanently removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – no other technology does both.

“Drax plans to invest £2bn in what will be the biggest carbon capture in power project in the world, supporting U.K. energy security, delivering thousands of jobs in the north in the 2020s, and creating new export opportunities,” Gardiner continued.

The consultation is open though Oct. 7. Additional information is available on the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website