Climate-saving technologies provide huge post-Brexit opportunities - Drax CEO
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 28 Mar 2019
New technologies required to tackle the world’s greatest challenge - climate change - are creating economic opportunities for the UK to build on its position as a global leader in clean energy post-Brexit
That's the view of Will Gardiner, Drax Group chief executive, set out at a special event today, Thursday, March 28.
Speaking at the Fuelling an Economy Fit for the Future panel event at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in London, Mr Gardiner told how a zero-carbon economy that provides sustainable jobs and new opportunities in areas that have suffered industrial decline can be created, while at the same time meeting environmental objectives.
Mr Gardiner said: “Climate change is the greatest challenge the world now faces – but it is also creating major new investment and job opportunities, which could be transformational after Brexit.
“Globally, by 2030, estimates show that the economic opportunity from creating a zero-carbon economy is upwards of £20 trillion – and the UK is ideally placed to drive the innovation required to take advantage of this.
“We’re already leading the world when it comes to decarbonising power generation – we’ve done more than any other country to remove coal from the grid. We must continue to drive innovation, to deliver further social, economic and environmental benefits through new technologies like carbon capture and storage, smart meters and electric vehicles.”
Drax has converted two thirds of the UK’s biggest power station at Drax in North Yorkshire from coal to use sustainable biomass, making it the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe – delivering carbon savings of more than 80 per cent.
It has seen huge investment in new facilities at Immingham and Hull ports.
It now has ambitions to become the world’s first negative emissions power station by using bioenergy carbon capture and storage technology. Its BECCS pilot plant is the world’s first to capture carbon dioxide from a 100 per cent biomass feedstock. If it can be scaled up, the power produced could help reduce the harmful gases accumulating in the atmosphere which cause climate change.
Mr Gardiner explained that Drax is working with the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, and other interested parties to explore the role carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) can play in turning the Humber Estuary into the world’s first ‘net-zero-carbon cluster’ by 2040.
“The Humber is strategically important – it is the most carbon intensive industrial cluster in the UK. The deployment of a new technology like CCUS could be most transformational there - reducing carbon emissions, extending the life of carbon intensive businesses, protecting jobs and creating growth,” Mr Gardiner explained.
“New technologies are already transforming the way we live and work – they are changing businesses and communities, and have the potential to improve everyone’s quality of life as well as Britain’s ability to compete in a global economy.
“Electricity demand could increase by around 25% by 2050 compared to today, as households and businesses switch to electric vehicles and electric heating. We need to ensure that this electric revolution is powered by clean, green electricity that provides a more sustainable economy for future generations.”
Drax Group is also the UK’s biggest supplier of renewable electricity to businesses through Haven Power and Opus Energy, its B2B energy supply businesses.
It supplies electricity to 396,000 business premises and is looking at ways in which batteries, smart technologies and electric vehicles can deliver economic benefits for its customers.