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expert reaction to the Drax decision to stop investing in CCS

Energy company Drax has announced their abandonment of the White Rose Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) scheme, blaming the recent cuts in renewable energy subsidies for the decision.


Dr Niall MacDowell, Lecturer in Energy and Environmental Technology and Policy at Imperial College London, said:

“To an extent, this is something of a storm in a teacup. Drax haven’t ‘pulled out’ – they’re just not going to spend any more money. Existing commitments still stand; they will continue to support the FEED study and will make the space available for the White Rose plant.

“The other White Rose partners – Alstom and BOC – are still going ahead with this important project. Obviously it is disappointing that Drax are no longer in a position to support the project financially, but if you look at their share price – it is currently at the lowest point since 2011 – they likely don’t have the money. As per the press release from Capture Power this morning, its business as usual.

“The fact that government have removed the bioenergy subsidy doesn’t help – this was an important source of revenue for Drax, which in turn leads them to need to consider their position vis-à-vis other investments.

“It is important to realise that CCS is a reliable form of power generation that is competitive on price with renewable energy. The technology is mature and has been deployed at commercial scale in Canada – in fact, the Canadian Boundary Dam plant has already stated that if they were doing the project again, the would be able to do it for 70% of the price of the first project.

“From the perspective of the UK, developing a CCS industry is absolutely critical to the least-cost decarbonisation of the economy. The Energy Technologies Institute and other institutions around the world have shown that without CCS, the cost of reaching UK climate change targets will at least double.

“The really disappointing thing here is that the revised stance on incentivising low carbon power has been used by climate change deniers in the US as evidence that there is no urgency to act on climate change. This implies that whilst the government are revising an internal, national policy, it has potentially serious ramifications for the global effort to transition to a low carbon economy; how can we exhort China and India to decrease emissions, if we are taking retroactive steps at home?”


Declared interests

Dr MacDowell has one PhD student being sponsored by Capture Power Ltd. Capture Power and Shell are on the advisory board of the Mesmerise-CCS Project which is funded by the EPSRC.

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