Powerhouse minister calls in on power plant to check on re-power plans

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 13 Feb 2018

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry has visited Drax Power Station to find out more about plans to convert the final two coal generating units to gas-firing.

The proposal would complement Drax’s existing coal-to-biomass conversion which has seen three units transformed to run on sustainable biomass pellets, with a fourth to follow this year.

If the Drax Repower plans go ahead in their entirety, the development would include two combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) with a combined capacity of up to 3,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity as well as battery storage of up to 200MW.

Read more: Coal-fired Eggborough Power Station to close later this year

Mr Berry, who was joined by Nigel Adams, MP for Selby & Ainsty, said: “Drax plays a hugely important role in the northern economy and it’s truly impressive how it has continued to innovate in recent years to move away from coal power. I enjoyed learning more about Drax’s gas conversion project and its wider plans to support Britain’s transition to a low carbon future based on an electric economy.”

Drax Power Station employs around 900 people and generated 16 per cent of the country’s renewable electricity in 2016 – enough for four million households, the equivalent of Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool.

VISIT: Andy Koss, Drax Power chief executive, Jake Berry, apprentice Lucy Riley, Nigel Adams, apprentice Jacob Spencer, Will Gardiner, Drax Group chief executive and apprentice Thomas Hughes in the Drax Power Station control room.

Andy Koss, Drax Power chief executive, said: “We were delighted to welcome Nigel Adams and Jake Berry to Drax. Our repowering project represents a really exciting time for us; the options we’re exploring could reuse some of the existing infrastructure from the remaining coal assets at Drax and extend their operation as gas plant into the 2030s.

“We hope the Repower project will secure the future of the power station beyond 2025 when the government says coal must come off the system. The North of England has a rich heritage in providing energy to the rest of the UK and Drax has an important role to play in delivering a low carbon economy as the UK comes off coal.”

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Drax Group contributed almost £1.7 billion towards UK GDP in 2016 and supported thousands of jobs across the country, including £577m across the North of England – Yorkshire and Humber, North West, and North East, termed as the ‘Northern Powerhouse Region’. 

Mr Adams said: “Thousands of jobs in Selby and across Yorkshire directly or indirectly rely on Drax Power Station. Drax’s proposal to convert its remaining coal units to gas to extend the life of the power station comes as welcome news at a time when other power stations in my constituency are closing their doors, with significant consequences for the employees working there.” 

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