Drax Power has completed conversion and commissioned the fourth biomass generating unit at its power station located at Selby in North Yorkshire, UK.


Image: The Drax power station in North Yorkshire, UK. Photo: courtesy of Drax Group plc.

The commissioning follows completion of conversion of the power unit at the facility from coal to biomass and bringing the power station a step closer to achieving its coal-free ambitions, the firm said.

Drax has already converted the first three of the six coal units of the power plant to use biomass between 2013 and 2016.

The firm said that the cost of converting the fourth unit is below the level of previous conversions at around £30m ($38m).

With the commissioning of the fourth unit, Drax said it is on course to eliminate coal-fired generation from the UK electricity system, before the government’s 2025 deadline

Drax said in a statement: “To convert the unit the project team has re-used some redundant infrastructure left from when the company was first co-firing biomass with coal on a large scale, around eight years ago.”

Following a trial last year, the firm proved that the modifying the old co-firing fuel transportation system, compressed wood pellets can be delivered in the quantities required to fully convert the fourth generating unit.

Drax Power CEO Andy Koss 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.”

About £700m has already been invested by Drax in upgrading the first three units and associated supply chain infrastructure to use sustainable biomass instead of coal.

The UK firm is now working to replace its remaining two coal units with gas-fired power generation units. The plan is currently being examined by the Planning Inspectorate.

Drax expects these combined cycle gas turbines to deliver up to 3.6GW of generation capacity and up to 200MW of battery storage.