£40m turbine upgrade signed between Drax and Siemens

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 31 Jul 2018

Drax Power has signed a new £40 million contract with Siemens for the upgrade of turbines on three of its biomass units over the next three years.

The upgrades will deliver efficiencies, as well as maintenance savings, which will cut the cost of biomass electricity production at the UK's largest power station.

The work, which starts in 2019, will take three years to complete, with one biomass unit being upgraded each year as part of its planned major overhaul. The efficiencies will be gained by fitting new, high tech pipework and valves, with new high efficiency blading and long life seals within the turbines on the biomass units.

The huge domes where biomass is stored at Drax, before being taken by conveyor to the units. 

Since transforming half of the power station to run on compressed wood pellets instead of coal it has become Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project - and the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator. It also saw the world's largest biomass reception facility emerge at Immingham, to handle the imported materials - a £130 million spend in a £750 million investment.  

Andy Koss, pictured right, Drax Power chief executive, said: “We firmly believe that biomass has a long-term role to play in the UK’s energy infrastructure. We’re looking at a number of ways to bring down the costs of our biomass generation – and these turbine upgrades are an important part of that work.

“Reducing the costs of our biomass operations will help to preserve the life of the plant and protect jobs, whilst we continue to produce the flexible, renewable power millions of homes and businesses rely on.”

Drax has upgraded three of its coal units to run on biomass with a fourth unit currently being converted – due to return to service later in the summer. It also plans to repower its remaining two coal units to use gas and develop up to 200MW of battery storage, with the proposal submitted to the Planning Inspectorate last month.

Darren Davidson, Siemens' managing director for  power generation services, added: “Siemens and Drax have a long-standing and proud partnership so it’s fantastic that we will now help them further develop their biomass solution. Once delivered this project will improve plant efficiency and flexibility and provide a further source of low carbon power to UK homes, businesses and services.”

The cost of the upgrades are within Drax’s existing plans with payment upon completion of the works.

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