The boss of Drax refused to comment on whether the energy firm is the second largest emitter of CO2 in the country, during a testy exchange with a leading Westminster body.
Chief executive Will Gardiner was grilled by BEIS Select Committee chief Darren Jones over its emission levels, with the panel of MPs looking into the future decarbonisation of the power sector.
He did not clarify whether Jones’ query about its emission was correct.
The energy boss said: “I’m disputing your characterisation of our business.”
Instead, Gardiner argued the emissions from his power plant – which burns wood pellets – were distinct from the emissions produced fossil fuel sites.
“It’s a different type of emission, which needs to be recognised as important,” he said, during the session.
Drax argues the electricity it produces in its power plant comes from burning wood – so the carbon it emits has already been absorbed from the atmosphere by the trees it burns.
The company’s biomass power plant is responsible for around 11 per cent of the UK’s renewable power, and last year Drax received around £800m in renewable energy subsidies.
In terms of future ambitions, it is hoping to capture carbon that comes from its smokestacks in Yorkshire, so that most of it is not released into the air.
However, Drax also revealed in its accounts last year that it emitted 13.3 megatonnes of carbon dioxide through its operations.
Drax session follows BBC greenwashing row
Gardiner argued during the session that the former coal-burning company has “decarbonised our business faster than any other power company in Europe.”
Jones replied: “Yeah, but from coal. That’s not difficult, right?”
When approached for comment a Drax spokesperson said: “Carbon accounting principles set out by thousands of the world’s leading climate scientists at the UNIPCC, state that the emissions from biomass are zero rated in the energy sector, because they have already been counted in the land sector.”
“As was explained to the committee today, to count the emissions from biomass in the energy sector would mean they were counted twice, which would be wrong. Darren Jones’ statement was therefore misleading because it was contrary to these well-established, global carbon accounting principles.”
The fiery session follows reports from the BBC that Drax has been cutting down environmentally-important forests in Canada to fuel the its power station – claims denied by the energy company.
Earlier this month, Drax revealed to a separate Westminster panel it would be prepared to do a carbon analysis of wood imports for its biomass facilities amid claims from the BBC it is hacking down carbon rich forests in Canada.
Its director of sustainability, Dr Alan Knight told the Environmental Audit Committee the company “completely agreed” with the idea.
He said he was “more than comfortable” to conduct life-cycle assessments of forests rather than simply relying on legislation that allows them to classify sources of wood as carbon neutral.