Based on a Doers Club deep dive discussion, led by Angela Hepworth, Commercial Director at Drax, and Johan Börje, BECCS lead at Stockholm Exergi.
- The BECCS process includes four elements:
- Sustainably-sourced biomass. Mostly wood residues and by-products from the timber industry, such as sawmill residues and forest thinnings.
- Biomass is used in power stations to produce electricity and heat. (BECCS integration also possible at biomass-to-fuel plants, but capture efficiency is lower than for power/heat.)
- Power plants are retrofitted or constructed with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, capturing 95% of flue gas
- CO2 is transported to geological storage sites via pipeline or ship
- Three preconditions for BECCS scaleup: access to geological storage, access to sustaionable forest biomass for energy production and strong political support, including initial government aid.
- The Drax and Stockholm Exergi deployment approaches are very similar, but Drax focuses on power generation, whereas Stockholm Exergi’s facility is tied to the existing district heating sector in Sweden and other Nordics, which comprises both heat and power (CHP) production.
- Multiple waste-to-energy plants (with 50% biogenic waste) can serve as a platform for BECCS and are scheduled to go online in 2026-27 timeframe. Sweden is also looking at pulp and paper plants
|Permanent geological storage that can be accurately measured and monitored||Public perception and civil society resistance challenges around biomass|
|Materially cheaper than other high-durability removal pathways||Underdeveloped carbon transport and storage infrastructure|
|No to low additional energy needs – energy for capture sourced from renewable biomass generator, with potential for re-use of waste process heat||Early projects require both government support and VCM revenue|
|Co-benefits: produces power/heat, can use waste wood products linked to forest fires, supports sustainable forest industry||Requires very strong focus on sustainable biomass sourcing|
|High long-term gigatonne scale potential|
|Political support in key early markets|
|Favourable LCA – robust processes in place to quantify supply chain emissions|
|Technically well understood solution that leverages existing sectors and infrastructure|
- No industrial scale facilities in operation based on forest biomass, but BECCS recently saw an impressive number of advance market sales confirmed recently, with delivery in the next couple of years.
- Drax: Initial market focus: US and UK biomass power plants (global target: 14 million tonnes on line by 2030); longer-term focus on Canada, EU and Asia, plus smaller plants that can be online by 2026. Has a 2m tonne deal with Respira and other smaller deals.
- Stockholm Exergi: No plans to expand beyond Europe. Most development will occur in Sweden and other Nordics, but open to sharing technology for development in other geographies. Funding from EU, Swedish reverse auction and VCM buyers. District heat customers are interested in buying a dual product: heat and negative emissions. Total potential based on existing plants around 2 million tonnes a year.
- Cost per tonne: around $300 recently announced for small amount, but lower for scale purchases. Cost-curve reduction expected. Estimating for 2025-2035 period: $200 – $400/tonne; after that, lower.
- The critical need is to reduce transaction costs on the supply and demand side through ‘super standardization’ and secure efficient transport solutions.
- Rules needed to allow for co-funding between voluntary and compliance markets. Both are required to scale a gigatonne industry in a timeline that is unprecedented in history. High demand from voluntary corporate buyers relieves competitive pressure for limited public money. Double-claiming between public and private sectors – which enables co-funding –
does not lead to double-counting in the climate inventory if accounting systems are kept separate.
- Accounting methods and third-party evaluation protocols for capture units are still under development. In the absence of agreed upon common standards, we emphasize key principles that must be met under any future methodology.
- Commodity traders and other financial market makers are putting pressure on reaching common standards, but still significant divergence.
- Standardization is “absolutely fundamental” and will capture upsteam factors related to biomass sourcing, scrutinising along several dimensions:
- Alternate end uses of feedstock used for BECCS are considered
- Impact on forest carbon stocks in sourcing regions assessed.
- Both Drax and Stockholm Exergi only source residuals, and don’t compete for wood that would go to long-lived products that could represent temporary carbon sinks.
|“BECCS will make the forest industry more sustainable.” BECCS adds a third dimension to the forestry mix (in addition to forestry product suppliers and power producers). CDR buyers with stringent additionality, MRV and sustainability standards and requirements, are major players demanding a high degree of transparency. Power consumers are less visible, lack clear influence channels, and command less leverage in imposing demand for sustainability and transparency on the forestry industry.|
How Doers can help
- Stimulating demand side – “getting advance buyers is among our most significant and immediate needs”. SBTi framework development is a key part of that. We need a more explicit and affirmative position from rule-setters regarding the importance of purchasing permanent removals today.
- Advocating for common standards – working with CDR providers and standards-makers in concert to converge.
- Dispelling misconceptions around sustainability commitments and systems related to biomass sourcing. Recent alarmism in media and civil society are delivering inaccurate and unbalanced accounts not rooted in realities on the ground. We need help balancing this with alternate messaging.