Operating exclusively on wood pellets, the converted power unit will have a capacity of 645MW. Two other units out of a total of six power units were previously upgraded to biomass by Drax.

In April 2015, the UK Government notified to the Commission of its plans to provide state aid for the conversion of the plant.

Later, the Commission in January 2016 had launched an in-depth investigation to verify whether the aid would not result in overcompensation and competition distortions in the biomass market as well as in the market for wood-based products.

After completing its analysis, the Commission concluded that the project’s contribution towards the growth of renewable energy outweighed any possible distortions of competition caused by the UK government’s backing.

Drax Power CEO Andy Koss said: “The energy challenge facing the UK is how to replace the contribution currently made by coal. Biomass technology is proven, ready to go and ideally placed to help the country transform to a low carbon future with reliable, secure and affordable renewable power.”

 “With the right support from the government, we could upgrade the remainder of the power station to run solely on biomass and provide up to eight per cent of the UK’s total electricity from sustainable sources.”

The British Government is looking to boost the power project through a premium payment exceeding the market price of the generated electricity.

It will support the power project until 2017 which is estimated to generate around 3.6TWh of electricity annually.

The Drax power plant is likely to utilize around 2.4 million tonnes of wood pellets annually which will be primarily sourced from the US and South America.

Image: Biomass domes at Drax Power Station. Photo: courtesy of Drax Group Plc.