Upgrade work begins at power station to drive down cost of biomass power

Work has begun at Selby’s Drax Power Station to upgrade one of its turbines and complete a £40m investment in Europe’s largest renewable power generator in North Yorkshire.

Over the next four months, more than 1,000 contractors will work around the clock to enhance the performance of one of the station’s four biomass units and improve its efficiency.

The project will include installing a new high-pressure turbine barrel, new pipework and surveying the station’s boilers as part of Drax’s plans to slash the cost of its biomass power generation by around a third by 2027.

The upgrade is the third and final upgrade as part of the investment programme in the station’s turbines which started in 2019.

Mike Maudsley, Drax Group’s UK portfolio generation director, said: “These turbine upgrades will improve the plant’s efficiency, ensuring Drax can continue to generate the reliable, renewable electricity millions of homes and businesses across the UK rely on, beyond 2027.

“It’s also a huge boost to the region’s economy, with more than a thousand contractors working on site during the project – that’s in addition to the 6,600 jobs supported throughout Drax’s supply chains in the North.”

The power station has been transformed in recent years from using coal, to generating renewable power with sustainable biomass – cutting carbon emissions by more than 90% since 2012.

Drax plans to go even further by becoming carbon negative by 2030 by using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Earlier this year Drax progressed its plans for BECCS – selecting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as its technology partner and kickstarting the planning process to develop BECCS at Drax this decade.

Subject to Government support, work to build BECCS could get underway as soon as 2024 with the creation of thousands of jobs.

The first BECCS unit at Drax Power Station would then be operational in 2027 with a second in 2030, permanently removing at least eight million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.