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Using technology to save the planet

11 February 2019 #Information Technology #Environment

Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire has become the first in Europe to use technology to capture carbon dioxide produced from burning fuel to generate electricity.

This has been commended as a huge step forward in the fight to prevent climate change.

This is welcome news in the weeks which have seen thousands of children across Europe protest for governments to take action against climate change, amid a back drop of extreme weather conditions across the planet; with temperatures plummeting to – 30 degrees in North America and soaring to 49 degrees in Australia.

The technology being used at Drax is “bio-energy with carbon capture and storage”, also known as BECCS. BECCS technology uses a solvent to isolate the carbon dioxide from the gasses emitted from the power station when it burns biomass to generate electricity.

During the trial, the technology successfully captured around 90% of the carbon dioxide produced, which is estimated to equate to around a tonne of the toxic green-house gas per day.

As still in a trial phase, the captured carbon dioxide is not currently being stored but this is the next step for the power station. Recent technological breakthroughs have seen stored CO2 being sold to the drinks industry, be turned into building blocks for construction purposes or being stored underground; all as means to prevent it from entering the atmosphere.

Data has been obtained throughout the Drax pilot with the view to expanding the technology further, to eventually make the power station totally “carbon-negative”. This is a ground-breaking phenomenon in the battle against climate change, as will mean that the plant will remove more carbon emissions from the atmosphere than it creates.

This is significant in a time in which we are told that global carbon emissions must fall to zero, in order to prevent the planet warming beyond the danger level of 1.5 degrees, which we are currently hurtling towards.

There are hopes that the BECCS technology being use at Drax could be scaled up to achieve negative emissions across the globe by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in huge quantities.

The challenge now is to implement this scaling up as soon as possible in order to try to slow and prevent further global warming - before the damage is irreversible.

In a world where our technological advances have brought about the drastic rise in carbon emissions, it is ironic but also necessary for us to harbour carbon capturing technologies like BECCS as soon as possible, to save the future of our planet.


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