Carbon capture is one of the great hopes for stopping Earth from overheating. Now, a British power company has begun what it says is a world-first trial of the technique on biomass emissions.
Drax (not to be confused with the Guardians of the Galaxy character, obviously) operates Europe’s biggest power station fuelled by biomass—essentially, organic waste material—in North Yorkshire, England.
The company is now running a pilot that sees a system, developed by local firm C-Capture, capture a ton of carbon dioxide from the plant each day. Ultimately, the plan is to produce so-called negative emissions—in other words, the Drax Power Station would remove more greenhouse gases from the air than it produces.
Drax says this is the first time CO2 is being captured exclusively from burning biomass. The waste material is already seen as a green-ish option for power generation, as it is renewable, although the emissions caused by burning it have led many scientists and environmentalists to warn against overstating its benefits. Capturing those emissions, however, might fix the problem.
“Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our [bioenergy carbon capture and storage] project,” said Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner. “Climate change affects us all so this is of real significance–not just for us at Drax, but also for the U.K. and the rest of the world.”
Claire Perry, the British minister for “energy and clean growth,” said the technology could help tackle climate change while “kickstarting a new cutting-edge industry in the U.K.”
Leeds-based C-Capture scored $4.5 million in new funding earlier this week from investors including Drax and BP.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering what happens to the carbon dioxide after it’s captured, Drax has come up with a very British solution to a genuine British problem—it’s been talking to the beer industry about using the CO2 to keep its products fizzy.