Drax Power Station is the largest source of electricity in the country. Opened in 1975 and extended in 1986, for much of its life Drax generated power using coal sourced from nearby collieries in the north of England.
At the turn of the millennium, the station’s team of engineers and technicians embarked on a decade-long programme of research and development to identify alternative fuels that could be used instead of coal. Having constructed a prototype plant and experimented with several different fuel types, Drax settled on compressed wood pellets made from low grade wood, thinnings and forest harvest residues.
Fast forward to today and Drax is now Europe’s largest decarbonisation project. Three of the station’s coal units have been converted to use biomass, reducing their carbon emissions by at least 80% in the process. Due to the sheer scale of the units, up to four million homes can be powered by Drax’s biomass units at any one time. Drax is also GB’s single largest source of renewable electricity, generating 16% of the country’s total renewable output in 2016.
Underpinning the operations at Drax is an extensive biomass supply chain that supports over 7,700 jobs across the UK, from specialist rail freight companies who manufacture and maintain Drax’s bespoke biomass wagons to engineering and construction contractors. As a result, Drax Power Station and its parent company typically contributes over £1.2bn each year to the UK economy.