Britain's largest coal-fired power station has become one of Europe's biggest renewable electricity generators today, with potential for future generation on the site to be based on strictly clean coal.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey opened the Drax coal-to-biomass conversion plan, and also announced that the Government was awarding funding to further the White Rose CCS project, which is also based at the site.

Drax plans to transform itself into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator through burning sustainable biomass in place of coal, and in April 2013 it finished converting one of its generating units to biomass, with plans to convert a further two units by 2016.

The new £700 million planned conversion project will burn wood pellets rather than coal, which Drax calculate will reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared to coal. The facilities will provide enough low carbon power to the equivalent of around 1 million homes and will help to safeguard 1,200 jobs and many more in the supply chain and in local communities.

Drax in numbers:

  • it is the UK's largest power station with 4 giggawatts capacity
  • it typically meets around 8% of the UK's electricity demand
  • it supplies enough electricity to power 6 million homes
  • plans are in place to convert 3 of the 6 units into biomass by 2016
  • the planned conversions will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 10m tonnes
  • Drax pioneered development of wagons designed to carry biomass
  • there are currently 5,000 people on site involved in the conversion project

The White Rose CCS Project

The Government has announced today that it intends to award a multi-million pound contract for detailed design and planning known as a FEED study, to Capture Power Limited for the White Rose CCS Project, which includes the Yorkshire-Humber CCS Trunkline, a carbon dioxide (CO2) transportation and storage solution to be undertaken by National Grid Carbon Limited.

The White Rose project involves Alstom, Drax Power and BOC who have formed "Capture Power Limited"; and National Grid.

The White Rose proposal is to build a new state-of-the-art 426MW clean coal power plant with full carbon capture and storage, bringing clean electricity to over 630,000 homes and capturing approximately 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This will link into the planned development of a CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure which would have capacity for additional CCS projects in the area. In total the White Rose proposal represents potential investment in the region of £2bn and up to 2,000 jobs.

Government is working with industry to create a new cost-competitive CCS industry in the 2020s. Our support for the development of CCS includes:

  • a £1 billion commercialisation competition to support practical experience in the design, construction and operation of commercial-scale CCS
  • a £125 million, 4-year co-ordinated research, development and innovation programme
  • reform of the UK electricity market so CCS will be able to compete with other low-carbon energy sources
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