Energy crisis means Drax will extend coal power operations by six months

The Government has asked Drax Power Station, in North Yorkshire, to work with National Grid to temporarily extend the life of its coal generation assets to March 2023.

It is in response to increased pressure on European gas markets and fears about electricity security of supply in the UK this winter.

Drax says it has now struck an agreement with National Grid, which means its two coal-fired units will remain available to provide a “winter contingency” service to the UK power system from October 2022 until the end of March 2023.

The units will not generate commercially for the duration of the agreement and only operate if and when instructed to do so by National Grid.

Drax will be paid a fee for the service and compensated for costs incurred.

Will Gardiner

Will Gardiner, Drax’s Group CEO, said: “At the request of the UK Government, Drax has agreed to delay the planned closure of its two coal-fired units and help bolster the UK’s energy security this winter.

“Drax has played a central role in ensuring Britain’s energy security over several decades and our workforce is proud to be providing this critical support to the UK energy system.

“Drax is the UK’s largest generator of renewable power, producing enough reliable, renewable electricity for five million households from our sustainable biomass and hydro operations and we remain committed to delivering a coal-free future.

“The UK’s long-term energy security depends on investment in innovative green technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which provides reliable, renewable power whilst permanently removing CO2from the atmosphere.

“Drax aims to invest billions of pounds developing BECCS in the UK by 2030, provided that the UK Government has in place policies to support the feasibility and delivery of negative emissions technologies, which it has committed to developing this year.”

Drax ended commercial operations on its two-remaining coal-fired generation units in March 2021, and formal closure was planned for September 2022, following the fulfilment of the Group’s Capacity Market obligations on these units.

It says a limited six-month extension to March 2023 is not expected to result in a material level of coal generation.