Drax, Equinor and National Grid Ventures aim to develop UK’s first zero carbon cluster in Yorkshire

Three big corporate names have signed a partnership agreement that could lead to the creation of the UK’s first zero carbon cluster in Yorkshire.

Drax has announced a new zero carbon partnership with two big corporate names. Picture by Simon Hulme

The Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures will work together to see whether a large-scale carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) network and a hydrogen production facility could be built in Yorkshire in the mid 2020s.

The three companies will explore the opportunity to scale-up the bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot project at Drax Power station in North Yorkshire to create the world’s first ‘carbon negative’ power station.

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They will also explore the potential development of a large scale hydrogen demonstrator within the Drax site by the mid 2020s.

It is the first significant action from industry since the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its Net Zero report, which found that CCUS and hydrogen technology developed in regional clusters are essential if Britain is to achieve a ‘net zero’ carbon economy by 2050.

Drax, Equinor and National Grid Ventures will also explore the strategic opportunities to develop a ‘cutting edge’ hydrogen economy in the region.

Drax Power Station is already capturing a tonne of carbon dioxide a day from its bioenergy carbon capture and storage pilot project.

If this project is scaled-up, it is hoped it could serve as the ‘anchor’ for a regional CCUS network, capturing millions of tonnes of carbon each year from nearby industrial sites.

Will Gardiner, inset, Drax Group’s CEO, said: “The Committee on Climate Change was clear – the UK needs both bioenergy with CCS and hydrogen production at scale by 2030 to achieve a ‘net zero’ carbon economy. This partnership is committed to meeting this challenge.

“With Drax’s carbon negative power station, the Humber region could lead the world in new technologies that can deliver for the climate and the economy, helping to create a cleaner environment for future generations while creating new jobs and export opportunities for British businesses.”

Irene Rummelhoff, Equinor’s executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with Drax and National Grid Ventures in looking at how the Humber region can be a launch pad for wider decarbonisation in the UK economy and be an example for others to learn from.”

Jon Butterworth, the chief operating officer, global transmission, for National Grid Ventures, said: “We all agree that we must act now to start delivering a ‘net-zero’ carbon economy.”

Henri Murison, Director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “The hydrogen economy is vital to the Northern Powerhouse, including key specific assets in the Humber region such as suitable storage options.”

“The success of the groundbreaking work on Carbon Capture Use and Storage by the team at Drax Power, including most notably their demonstrator project, is the basis for significant future progress. I know from working with them the scale of opportunity, and I have every confidence this new collaboration will achieve its ambitious aims, which will be reflected in the Nothern Powerhouse energy industrial strategy which we at Northern Powerhouse Partnership will be publishing later this year.”