Drax announces plans for 3 US BECSS projects

By Erin Voegele | May 23, 2023

Drax Group plc announced on May 23 it has selected two sites in the U.S. to build new bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECSS) projects. The company is also developing an option for a project to add BECCS to an existing pellet plant in Louisiana.

Over the past two years, Drax said it has been progressing a number of work streams to develop options for BECCS, with a primary focus on North America. According to the company, it has continued to develop plans for a new-build BECCS power unit capable of producing c.2TWh of electricity from sustainable biomass and capturing c.3Mt of carbon annually. Two initial sites located in the U.S. South have been selected and are progressing to option, according to Drax. The two sites combined could enable 0.6MT of carbon per year by 2030.

Drax estimates total investment would be approximately $2 billion per plant, with a final investment decision (FID) targeted for 2026. The facilities could be operational as soon as 2030.

The new-build BECCS projects would enable a wider choice of biomass materials, including wood chips. Drax said it is also continuing to evaluate nine additional BECCS sites in North America.

To support the development of North American BECCS projects, Drax has hired 80 employees in the U.S. and Canada and is working to establish a global BECCS headquarters in Houston, Texas.

The proposed project to add BECCS capabilities to an existing pellet plant would have the capacity to capture more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year from the pelleting process. The project has a projected capital cost of $150 million, according to Drax. The company is targeting FID for the BECCS pellet project in 2024 or 2025, with commissioning expected to begin as soon as 2026.