Drax to convert fourth unit to biomass after Government decision on cost control

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 17 Jan 2018

A FOURTH generating unit at Drax Power Station is to be converted to pure-biomass feedstock after the regional giant welcomed the UK Government’s response to a consultation on cost control.

It ultimately means significant further investment on site, where gas-fired and battery storage investments have also been unveiled, as well as further volumes for Humber ports.

Immingham is home to the world’s largest biomass reception facilities, while Hull also has a smaller scale operation.

The Government has tweaked support from a cap on any future conversions, to a scheme applied at power station level, which would protect existing subsidy streams for the first three conversions in the £700 million transformation from coal, and limit the increase.

Bosses said the response would enable Drax to optimise its power generation from biomass across its three Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) awarded units under the cap, while supporting the Government’s objective of controlling costs.

Drax will now continue its work to deliver the low cost conversion of a fourth biomass unit, accelerating the removal of coal-fired generation from the UK electricity system, while supporting security of supply.

Drax plans to complete the work on this unit as part of a major planned outage in the second half of this year, returning to service in late 2018. 

Will Gardiner, chief executive of Drax Group, having succeeded Dorothy Thompson on January 1, said: “We welcome the Government’s support for further sustainable biomass generation at Drax, which will allow us to accelerate the removal of coal from the electricity system, replacing it with flexible low carbon renewable electricity.

“We look forward to implementing a cost-effective solution for our fourth biomass unit at Drax.”

The capital cost is significantly below the level of previous conversions, re-purposing the existing co-firing facility on site to deliver biomass to the unit.

It will likely operate with lower availability than the three existing converted units, but the intention is for it to run at periods of higher demand, which are often those of higher carbon intensity, allowing optimisation of ROC generation across three accredited units.

Head of ABP's Humber International Terminal, Sarah West, said: “ABP Humber is delighted in joining Drax in welcoming the Government’s support for sustainable biomass generation which will help to serve the UK energy needs into the future.”

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