Drax is enabling a zero carbon, lower cost energy future

About Drax

Drax Group is a renewable energy company engaged in renewable power generation, the production of sustainable biomass and the sale of renewable electricity to businesses.

Drax operates a generation portfolio of sustainable biomass, hydro-electric and pumped hydro storage assets across four sites in England and Scotland. It is the UK’s largest source of renewable electricity. The company also operates a global bioenergy supply business with manufacturing facilities at 13 sites in the United States and Canada, producing compressed wood pellets for its own use and for customers in Europe and Asia.

The Group employs 3,400 people in the UK and North America.

Our ambition:

Our ambition is to become carbon negative by 2030. This means that we will be removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we produce throughout our direct business operations globally – creating a carbon negative company.

Our strategic aims

A global leader in sustainable biomass pellets

Sustainably sourced biomass is a renewable, low carbon source of energy and a key element in the road to net zero. This is at the heart of our purpose. Sustainable biomass can play an important role in supporting forest health. Well-managed forests are effective at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

We are committed to sourcing sustainable biomass that achieves both decarbonisation and positive forest outcomes. Drax forms part of a wider forest industry where forest management and felling is used primarily for producing material for construction and manufacturing. The material we use to make pellets includes sawmill and forest residuals, and low-grade roundwood – material of a lower grade which is unsuitable for use in a sawmill. Using these materials can also help prevent the spread of fire, pests, and disease by reducing stand density to healthier levels and removing deadwood which can attract insects and pathogens.

By diligent sourcing of these materials to make pellets, our activity can help forest owners, and the larger forest industry, make the best use of forests, achieving both decarbonisation and positive forest outcomes.

“Without biomass, we’re not going to make it. We need biomass in the mix, but the right biomass in the mix.”

Source: Frans Timmermans, the executive vice- president of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, May 2021

An infographic showing the process of BECCS using sustainably managed forests. Click to view/download

A global leader in carbon removals

Alongside carbon emission reductions, carbon removal technologies are needed to remove carbon from the atmosphere. With an effective carbon removals policy and the right investment framework from the UK Government, we could deploy bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) on two of our existing biomass generating units in the UK to remove 8Mt of CO2 each year by 2030. And we are targeting 12Mt of carbon removals globally by 2030.

Up to 9.5bn tonnes of carbon removals, via BECCS, could be required annually by 2050 to reach global net zero targets.

Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), April 2022

A UK leader in dispatchable, renewable power

Moving away from fossil fuels means building an electricity system that is primarily based on renewables. Supporting wind and solar, by providing electricity at times of low sunlight or wind levels, will require flexible sources of generation, such as biomass. Our pumped storage and run-of-river hydro stations also help to reinforce the UK’s renewable energy mix.

The dispatchable generating assets at Drax remain critical to providing UK power system stability and security as the war in Ukraine continues to put global energy markets under considerable pressure. Over the 2022-23 winter, our assets generated renewable power when the country needed it most. This has helped the UK to provide energy to consumers and businesses while maintaining its target of net zero by 2050.

Ensuring the electricity system is reliable means intermittent renewables need to be complemented by technologies which can provide dispatchable power, such as bioenergy.

Source: UK Government, Biomass Policy Statement, November 2021