Skip to main content

Drax to launch new business focused on becoming the global leader in large-scale carbon removals

Published Jan 25, 2024 by Taylor Tatum

Houston Skyline

[PRESS RELEASE] - Global renewable energy company Drax Group plc has announced that it plans to establish a new independent business unit that will focus on becoming the global leader in delivering large-scale and high-integrity carbon removals.

The recent “global stocktake” at COP28 warned of the need to move faster to tackle the climate emergency. Large-scale carbon removals, including BECCS, are widely regarded by the scientific community as being critical to meeting this challenge. Working with coalition partners, the new business will offer a compelling proposition that combines Drax’s expertise in BECCS with the latest climate science and it will have an ambitious goal to remove at least 6Mt of CO2 from the atmosphere annually.

The business will be operationally separate within the Drax Group and headquartered in Houston in the United States. It will be led by Laurie Fitzmaurice, a senior energy infrastructure expert, who has nearly 30 years of experience in business development around the world, most recently for Amazon Web Services. Drax intends to formally launch this new entity in the United States later this year and Laurie will be supported by a highly skilled management team with a track record of success in tackling climate change through the development and delivery of innovative technologies.

Laurie and her team will take ownership for delivering the Group’s strategy for BECCS in the US and internationally as set by the board of Drax Group plc. It will have day-to-day responsibility for project execution including project development, delivery and marketing and sales of CDR credits and power and deployment of the Group’s multi-billion-dollar global BECCS capex program. Laurie will also use her experience to collaborate with strategic partners drawn from the scientific, academic, consulting, investment and construction communities, in addition to civil society, so as to accelerate the global deployment of carbon dioxide removals technology.

In the UK, Drax’s plans for installing BECCS onto its Power Station in Yorkshire and its transformation into the world’s largest carbon removals facility have recently been granted planning approval by the UK Government. The Government has also recently recognized the important role which biomass can play in delivering the UK’s plans for Net Zero as well as supporting energy security. The delivery of this project will continue to be handled by a UK-based team within Drax Group.

New research published today by Foresight Transitions, a specialized consultancy led by a team from Imperial College, London, concludes that BECCS is necessary to help the United States achieve its ambitious decarbonization scenarios, deliver a zero-carbon power system by 2035 and become net-negative by 2050. The report also highlights how deploying BECCS will not only enable deep emissions reductions but also has the potential to create thousands of jobs across multiple industries. The study concludes that the integration of BECCS is a cost-effective solution, outweighing other technologies, whilst strengthening system reliability across the three major regional grids in the U.S. (CAISO, MISO, and ERCOT) and reducing interconnection delays.

“I am delighted to have been asked to lead Drax’s new US-based business at such a crucial point in the growth of the carbon removals industry. We have enormous potential to play a significant role in tackling climate change and improving the lives of millions of people across the world. By working with a coalition of partners, together we can accelerate the rate at which we are able to scale carbon removals and I encourage stakeholders who are keen to deliver on this ambition to work with us.” - Laurie Fitzmaurice

“The creation of this business brings to life years of hard work by many outstanding people across our Group and marks another step in Drax’s journey to enable a zero-carbon, lower-cost energy future. Our recent success is grounded in providing secure, renewable energy and our future is focused on playing a critical role in tackling climate change through the generation of secure, renewable power and the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide. I am excited to welcome Laurie as President of our new US-headquartered carbon removals business and look forward to working with her. We have a limited window of opportunity to capitalize on our first mover advantage and I am confident that the time is right for this approach. The new entity will bring focus and will scale the company’s ability to deliver carbon removals to organizations looking to reduce their carbon footprints. Delivering the ambitious targets will see the new entity become a leader in the growing carbon trading market.” - Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO

“This study set out to quantify the role and value of BECCS in the context of decarbonizing a variety of power systems in the USA. We consistently observed that BECCS provided substantial value through the cost-effective removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and also the baseload generation of renewable energy – a complement to other forms of renewable energy.” - Professor Niall McDowell, author of the Foresight Transitions research

Addressing the issue of climate change requires the widespread adoption of carbon removal technologies. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that the world will need to remove between 0.5 and 9.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually via BECCS by 2050 to stay on course to limit global warming to the crucial 1.5°C target.

Last year’s COP28 conference proved to be another pivotal moment for global climate action with much of the discussion in Dubai focused on the critical need to accelerate the deployment of carbon dioxide removals. At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, the world’s attention was again focused on carbon removals and the announcement of our new company comes at an important moment in the collective fight against climate change.

Governments around the world have been increasingly adopting policies which are supportive of carbon dioxide removals and BECCS, including through the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States, Europe’s Renewable Energy Directive and the UK’s ‘Powering Up Britain’ energy security and Net Zero strategy and Biomass Strategy.

Analysis undertaken by consultancy FTI for Drax found that 92% of key decision-makers in sustainability and procurement roles in the US agree that carbon removals could have significant or moderate impact on combating climate change, and 69% believe it’s very important for U.S. companies to invest in low or negative emission technologies like carbon removal technologies.

The engineered carbon removals market has continued to grow exponentially over the last 12 months with 4.5Mt purchased in 2023 – a sixfold increase from last year, according to cdr.fyi. However, the total amount sold to date represents only 0.05% of the IPCC annual goal.

 

For more information, please contact:

Chris Mostyn, Group Head of Media Relations

07548 838896

chris.mostyn@drax.com

Related News

Energy

Houston Attracts Increasing Number of Carbon Capture Projects

6/14/24
A recent wave of decarbonization project announcements, including the expansion of a Norwegian company into Houston, demonstrates how the region has positioned itself as a hub for companies and collaborations advancing low-carbon solutions.  Capsol Technologies ASA, a Norwegian carbon capture and storage company focused on capturing carbon from gas turbines, has announced the opening of an office in Houston. The company’s CEO Wendy Lam told the Houston Business Journal that Houston’s strong relationship with Norway, the region’s infrastructure and access to talent were key factors in their decision to move to Houston. Lam also cited the favorable U.S. policies that are making CCS technology more financially viable than in Europe.  One of the region’s biggest projects is a joint venture involving Chevron, Equinor and TotalEnergies called the Bayou Bend carbon capture and storage project along the Texas Gulf Coast between Houston and Port Arthur. Bayou Bend has the potential to become one of the largest CCS sites in the country for industrial emitters, with an underground storage capacity of one billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Worley, an Australia-based engineering firm with its primary U.S. office in Houston, has been chosen to design and evaluate CO2 gathering, handling and sequestration facilities for the project.  Chevron, a partner in the region’s HyVelocity Hub, is investigating the potential to integrate its hydrogen efforts with the Bayou Bend CCS project, though no official announcements have been made.  Ørsted and ExxonMobil, fellow partners in the HyVelocity Hub, were recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its $6 billion Industrial Demonstrations Program to receive federal funding for their decarbonization projects.  A subsidiary of Denmark-based Ørsted, which opened its first Houston office earlier this year, could receive up to $100 million in DOE funding to support the development of the Star e-methanol plant located on the Texas Gulf Coast, which will use captured CO2 to create up to 300,000 metric tons of e-methanol annually.  Meanwhile, ExxonMobil, which relocated its corporate headquarters to the Houston region in 2022, could receive up to $331.9 million through its $6 billion Industrial Demonstrations Program for its Baytown Olefins Plant Carbon Reduction Project. It plans to utilize hydrogen rather than natural gas to produce ethylene.  Exxon has become more involved in CCS infrastructure since its acquisition of Denbury Inc. in 2023, which involved major assets including the largest CO2 pipeline network in the U.S. and ten onshore carbon sequestration sites.  A partnership with EnLink Midstream LLC is allowing Exxon to explore additional CCS opportunities along the Gulf Coast, including the Houston Ship Channel and the Port Arthur-Beaumont area, which are noted as being high sources for CO2 emissions.  This comes after the company’s proposed $100 billion carbon capture collaboration in the Houston area back in 2021. Exxon estimates that the proposed CCS hub could capture and store 50 million metric tons of CO2 annually by 2030 and 100 million metric tons by 2040.  Other major energy players such as SLB are making moves in the CCS space and looking to increase their investments in carbon capture.  In March, SLB announced an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Aker Carbon Capture, a Norwegian pure-play carbon capture company whose proprietary CCS technology serves broad range of industries, including cement, bio and waste-to-energy, gas-to-power, and blue hydrogen segments.  “For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades. We are excited to create this business with [Aker Carbon Capture] to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors,” said SLB CEO Olivier Le Peuch in a press release.  Learn more about how Houston is leading the energy transition.
Read More
Construction

Companies Investing in Houston's Energy Workforce

6/6/24
As Houston continues to lead the energy transition, major corporations are making significant investments to ensure the region's workforce is equipped with the skills of tomorrow. Key industry players ExxonMobil and Bechtel have recently announced initiatives, demonstrating their commitment to preparing and empowering the next generation of energy professionals. ExxonMobil's Commitment to STEM Education The ExxonMobil Foundation recently donated $17 million to Khan Academy for the Open Doors Project. The initiative will allow Khan Academy to offer free Texas standards-aligned math and science courses for 3rd – 12th graders and teacher guides to facilitate the new courses.  The collaboration with Khan Academy will enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning opportunities, ensuring students have the foundational knowledge and skills required to pursue careers in the energy industry and beyond.  Bechtel's Construction Career Pathways Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, construction, and project management, is also making significant strides in workforce development. The company recently announced it offered construction careers to 15 graduating seniors from the pipefitter and welding Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Nederland High School and Port Arthur Memorial High School. The students received hands-on experience and training through the program, allowing them to successfully move into careers at the Port Arthur Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Phase 1 project site.  “We are excited to offer jobs to these students who have gained the experience needed to complete their curriculum and start their path to becoming skilled craft professionals,” said Kane McIntosh, Port Arthur LNG Project Manager at Bechtel. “Sempra Infrastructure and Bechtel are committed to supporting Port Arthur and Southeast Texas, which includes training the next generation of workers who will deliver large-scale projects like Port Arthur LNG Phase 1.” Shaping the Future of Energy The investments by ExxonMobil and Bechtel are crucial for ensuring Houston remains at the forefront of the global energy industry. By focusing on education and career development, these companies are fostering innovation and sustainable growth in the energy sector while addressing the current and future workforce needs. Learn more about the region's energy industry and workforce development programs.  
Read More

Related Events

Economic Development

Future of Global Energy Conference Presented by Shell USA, Inc.

The Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) and the Center for Houston's Future invite you to the annual Future of Global Energy presented by Shell USA, Inc. …

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners