Drax becomes one of Europe’s biggest renewable electricity generators

DRAX has become one of Europe’s biggest renewable electricity generators.

Energy and climate change secretary, Edward Davey, opened the Drax coal-to-biomass conversion plant yesterday, and announced the Government is awarding funding to further the White Rose CCS project, also based at the site. It has also been announced that there is potential for new future generation on the site to be based on clean coal.

At Selby-based Drax, which is Britain’s largest coal-fired power station, the £700m planned conversion project will burn wood pellets rather than coal. Drax said this will reduce carbon emissions by 80% compared to coal.  

The facilities will provide enough low carbon power to the equivalent of around 1m homes and help safeguard 1,200 jobs and many more in the supply chain and in local communities.

Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax, said the opening of the biomass facilities marks the transformation not just of the power station, but of the whole business.

“I am enormously proud of the team at Drax. The facilities being opened are a unique feat of engineering and remarkably they have been delivered at an operational power station which the country depends on to deliver 7-8% of the power we need,” she said.

“This fundamental change has implications far beyond Drax and even our supply chain. Sustainable biomass has a critical role in the UK’s electricity mix. It is the only renewable which can deliver low carbon electricity on demand, at the scale the grid needs and precisely when it’s needed. It is also a low cost renewable which will help to manage the expense of the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.”

Davey added: “Drax’s ambitious plans have made it one of Europe’s biggest renewable generators, helping to increase our green energy supplies.

“In August we announced challenging and tough sustainability criteria for biomass, and we’ll be monitoring the sector against those standards.”      

The multi-million pound FEED study funding will support the White Rose project, which is designing a circa £2bn state-of-the-art coal power plant with full CCS that will be able to provide clean electricity to more than 630,000 homes.

It also includes the planned development of a CO2 transport and storage network – the Yorkshire Humber CCS Trunkline – which would have capacity for additional CCS projects in the area.

This innovative project has the potential to create up to 2,000 jobs and safely capture 90% of the plant’s emissions.