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Britain's Drax becomes world's first biomass plant to capture carbon

The pilot bioenergy carbon capture and storage project is expected to capture a ton of carbon dioxide a day.

FILE: A view of the cooling towers of the Drax coal-fired power station near Selby, northern England on 25 September 2015. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Britain’s Drax has started capturing carbon dioxide at its wood-burning power plant in North Yorkshire, a world first in technology it hopes could lead to carbon negative power plants in the future.

Energy companies are seeking ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while also providing constant supplies of electricity when renewable power sources, such as wind and solar are limited by the weather.

The pilot bioenergy carbon capture and storage project is expected to capture a ton of carbon dioxide a day and Drax will also seek to find ways to store and use the CO2 captured.

“This innovative technology has the potential to make huge strides in our efforts to tackle climate change while kick-starting an entirely new cutting-edge industry in the UK,” Britain’s energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said in a statement.

Drax said the project was the first in the world to capture carbon emissions from a biomass plant.

Carbon capture, storage and use (CCSU) involves the capture of emissions from power plants and industry to allow them to be compressed and stored for use in industrial applications such as making drinks fizzy.

Climate scientists say the technology is likely to be needed to help meet the international Paris climate agreement to try to limit a rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Earlier attempts to capture and store emissions underground (CCS) in Europe have largely failed. An European Union program in 2012 did not go on to fund a single CCS project and a British support scheme was canceled in 2015.

However, the hope is that finding ways of using the carbon dioxide, rather than simply storing it, will help the technology to become more economically feasible.

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