Drax power station in North Yorkshire has moved a step closer to becoming coal-free after switching on its fourth biomass generating unit.
Drax says the conversion of a fourth unit from coal to biomass means it is on course to be off coal before the government’s 2025 deadline.
The fourth unit will help the power station to deliver the ‘reliable and flexible’ power needed by the grid to maintain secure supplies as more renewables come online and the sector continues to decarbonise.
In the UK there has been an 84% reduction in coal-fired power generation in the last five years as low carbon generation has increased.
Nigel Adams MP for Selby said: ‘I’m delighted to see Unit 4 in operation as a biomass unit, continuing the good work Drax is doing with its Beyond Coal strategy, protecting jobs and ensuring it continues to play a vital role in the Northern Powerhouse economy.’
To convert the unit, Drax re-used redundant infrastructure left from when the company was first co-firing biomass with coal on a large scale, around eight years ago.
The cost of conversion of the fourth generating unit was around £30m.
Drax has already invested around £700m in upgrading the first three units and associated supply chain infrastructure to use sustainable biomass instead of coal.
Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said:
‘This is another major milestone in the transformation of the power station. It will extend the life of the plant, protecting jobs, whilst delivering cleaner, reliable power for millions of homes and businesses.
‘It is testament to the engineering expertise, skill and ingenuity we have at Drax. The team has developed some very innovative solutions for this upgrade, using all the knowledge we’ve gained throughout the work we have done so far to transform the business using sustainable biomass.’
Drax will now continue its work to replace its remaining two coal units, with gas-fired power generating units.