The Drax Large Coal Plant in Yorkshire, England, has 12 cooling towers and is one of the world's largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It can meet one-tenth of the UK's electricity needs at the cost of up to about 23 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. However, Drax is working to transform it into a negative-emitting power station: abandoning coal, burning woody biomass, and burying the resulting carbon emissions; then replanting the burnt trees. One day, this mega-pollution will eventually become the world's largest industrialized carbon absorber.
The UK National Non-Food Crops Centre is an advisory body that promotes biomass energy. Jeremy Tomkinson of the center said: "This is a very exciting new technology, which means we can actually reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."
The New Scientist magazine website reported on the 6th (Beijing time) that the power station has begun to gradually replace coal with biomass. Dr. Richard Peabody, vice president of Drax, said: "Since the beginning of July, half of the electricity production has come from burning biomass." The company built wood processing plants in Louisiana and Mississippi, USA, and Canada buys wood chips and will import timber from Brazil in the future.
The next step will be carbon capture and storage (CCS). Later this year, Drax's Â£500 million white rose project is expected to be approved by the British government. The project plans to capture 2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from 2020 and then bury it under the North Sea through a 165-kilometer pipeline. As the project progresses, approximately 600,000 households will eventually use negative emissions.
For the current most pressing issue of carbon dioxide emissions from biomass production, Drax responded that harvesting, processing and transporting wood produced emissions equivalent to only 14% of coal emissions and emissions from burning wood. The carbon can also be captured back by planting new trees.
However, Timothy Scheig, an environmental analyst at Princeton University, believes that the new tree will take decades to grow, and once the trees are cut, the land is likely to be used. Dale Green, director of the Department of Forests at the University of Georgia, disagreed. He said that in the past few decades, Mississippi's forest area has increased by 400,000 hectares, many of which were planted on previous cotton fields, and Drax provides a market for wood products. The more trees are cut, the more they are planted. The more new trees there will be.
Thermal power plants have always been responsible for carbon dioxide emissions in the power generation industry, while the UK has to turn from a major pollution source to a negative emission, or it is a reference for us. How to solve the problem of pollution from the source, and how can the industry with overcapacity be adjusted? We have more expectations for the blue sky, and we hope that the pace of governance around us will be calm and orderly. After all, nothing can bring us such a daunting challenge like the climate issue.
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