Driving past Drax power station can be a pretty grim experience. Watching its twelve, vast cooling towers blasting vapor out into the atmosphere, you can’t help but get the impression that it isn’t doing wonders for the planet’s ecological well-being. The fact is that this coal-burning monster of a power plant is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK, and whilst that’s largely down to the Yorkshire facility’s status as the biggest producer of fossil-fueled electricity in all of Western Europe, its still nothing to be proud of. The team behind Drax are now making a bid to wipe out a considerable part of this carbon footprint, and they’re making real headway.
Drax power station is a major contender to secure a significant share of £1billon of funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change set aside for the implementation of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) in some of the country’s major power stations. The consortium of companies backing the Drax bid includes Alstom, BOC, the National Grid and Drax itself, and the efforts of this weighty bloc of organizations have clearly impressed the DoEaCC, who’ve included the plant on a shortlist of four facilities to be given further consideration in the process of deciding exactly how the £1billion fund will be spent.
Should Drax be successful in their bid for the CCS funding, it is estimated that the station’s carbon emissions could be reduced by as much as 90%. The ‘White Rose project’ plan would see much of the plant’s CO2 transported in liquid form through a 40-mile pipeline to beneath the porous rock beneath the seabed beyond Barmston in East Yorkshire, where it could be safely contained beneath the North Sea.
With a little luck, in the near future we could be breathing a little easier as we drive past the cooling towers at Drax.