Carbon capture investment key to UK Net Zero success

The CEO of a British energy from waste operator has said the country must find a solution to the removal of carbon if it is to deliver its net zero ambitions.

Mike Maudsley, of enfinium made his comments as the company announced it is to lead an investment of up to £800 million over the project lifecycle in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at one of its UK sites in West Yorkshire.

With plans to be operational from 2030, the project would provide the UK with carbon removals, decarbonise unrecyclable waste and generate over 90 MW of baseload, homegrown carbon negative power.

The technology will be installed at enfinium’s Ferrybridge 1 and 2 facility in Knottingley, West Yorkshire. Once operational, it would capture around 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year, including over 600,000 tonnes of durable, high-quality carbon removals – equivalent to taking the carbon emissions of every household in Manchester out of the atmosphere.

Maudsley, said: “To deliver a net zero carbon economy, the UK needs to find a way to produce carbon removals, or negative emissions, at scale. Installing carbon capture at our Ferrybridge site would make it one of Europe’s biggest carbon removal projects. All this while decarbonising unrecyclable waste, diverting it from climate-damaging landfill, and supporting the green economy in West Yorkshire and the wider community.”

The company said the Climate Change Committee’s Carbon Budgets make clear that the UK needs to deliver carbon removals to achieve a Net Zero economy. Around 50% of the unrecyclable waste produced by society is made up of biogenic content including organic material such as waste food, plants and paper, which has already naturally absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere.

Installing CCS technology at an energy from waste facility enables this CO2 to be permanently captured and stored rather than released back into the atmosphere, resulting in a net carbon removal from the atmosphere or ‘negative emissions’.

With CCS installed, Ferrybridge, the UK’s largest energy from waste site, would become one of the largest carbon removal projects in Europe, accelerate regional decarbonisation in West Yorkshire and support over 200 jobs across the supply chain during the development phase enfinium added.

“Despite progress in reducing waste and increasing recycling, the UK will continue to produce around 17 million tonnes of unrecyclable waste by 2042,” the company said in a statement. “enfinium’s Ferrybridge site currently diverts up to 1.45 million tonnes of unrecyclable waste from climate damaging landfill. As recognised by the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission, emissions from energy from waste plants are lower per tonne of waste compared to landfill.”

The proposals will be put forward for grant support from the UK Government as part of their expansion of the Track-1 cluster sequencing process, due to launch this month. Planning and consent for the site will move forward in 2024.

Olivia Powis, UK director of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, commented: “enfinium’s planned £800 million investment in CCS at Ferrybridge marks a critical milestone for carbon removal and clean power. For the UK to host one of Europe’s largest carbon removal projects, it demonstrates we are really leading the way in our journey towards a net zero future. enfinium’s strategic vision has the potential to sustain and create good local jobs and transform the facility in West Yorkshire.”