“Our ambition is to become carbon negative by 2030”
At the November 2019 “Capital Markets Day,” Drax stated their ambition, explaining “being carbon negative means that we will be removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we produce throughout our operations – creating a negative carbon footprint for the company.”
This is an incompatible dream with what Drax is and what it does. Drax does not appreciate the climate emergency and is not providing resilient energy generation.
The Drax Group is a massive fossil fuel-fired power generation company and wood pellet company. Changing from burning coal, to burning forests, to burning natural gas is moving Drax and the UK in a negative direction. How is building a new 3.6 GW natural gas-fired plant helping the climate? Putting all your eggs in one basket near family neighborhoods is a bad strategy.
Ignoring the climate emergency
Drax is burning U.S. forests pretending to care for the planet and providing poor quality jobs for low-income communities in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Pollution, road congestion, and noise will hardly benefit these communities.
Is the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System funding the Drax mills like the Highland Pellet Mill?
Last month, “Burning the forests” explained the plans to build three pellet mills, the so-called Arkansas Bioenergy mills. At the time, I was unaware of their business strategy and sustainability plans.
In 2019, 65 percent of the pellets burned by the UK Drax station came from the Southeastern United States, around 4.6 million tons.
Drax created the wood pellet industry. Enviva, Highland Pellets, and others have long term contracts with Drax. Japan and other nations like what they see. If it’s good enough for the United Kingdom, it is good for them. They can recognize a loophole or two.
Even after the White Rose debacle, Drax still pretends Carbon Capture and Storage will eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. Drax knows about the Mississippi Kemper CCS, with billions of dollars and years wasted while the Kemper team used smoke and mirrors to show progress. Kemper is now the world’s most expensive natural gas plant. Is Drax following the Kemper path?
Drax ignores new technology
Drax is not investing in offshore wind, solar energy generation, nor grid energy storage solutions. The UK has a new supercooled air long-term energy storage facility for the grid.
Drax’s central generation will not help the grid to deal with power blackouts. Drax is joined at the hip with the UK National Grid. Drax needs the Grid, but does the Grid need Drax?
Natural gas is worse than coal for the climate
Natural gas (is 90 percent methane gas. NG is a greenhouse gas and creates carbon dioxide during combustion.
Coal is transported in open cars and stored at the power plant without special enclosures and zero emissions. Methane is a colorless odorless gas that leaks from the shale well to the flame. NG emissions are ignored to reduce the cost. If you can’t see a gas leak, you can pretend it’s not there.
The climate warming potential of methane is 84 times more than the warming of carbon dioxide for the first 20-years.
Moomaw says no more loopholes, let’s solve the problem
Last December the United Nations Climate Change Conference went into overtime trying to reach an agreement on higher reductions on carbon emissions. Some countries did not show up, as if building walls will keep Americans safe.
William Moomaw, a renowned climate scientist, gave a dire warning for politicians and humanity on YouTube. He spoke with great concern and despair about the speed of the climate emergency and the slow progress made reducing carbon emissions. He said the goal is zero emissions, not net-zero! He explains why carbon neutrality is not the solution – “climate neutrality means that I can continue emitting and someone else, someplace else, at some other time, will somehow have planted enough trees to remove that amount of carbon dioxide.”
Please visit the Wendell State Forest Alliance, save our climate and our forests, wendellforest.org
Dr. Luis Contreras