Our history - Drax
Our history

1967

The Selby coalfield is discovered and the Central Electricity Generating Board begins building Drax Power Station to use its coal. Two other recently-built coal power stations, Ferrybridge C and Eggborough, begin generating electricity.

1974

Drax Power Station begins generating electricity after its first 660MW unit is commissioned. It is the most advanced and efficient coal-fired power station ever built in the UK.

1975

Drax Power Station is officially opened with three generators and a total generating capacity of just under 2,000MW. It has the capability to power around two million homes.

1986

Drax doubles in size and capacity, becoming the largest power station in the UK.

1988

Drax becomes the first power station to invest in retrofitted flue gas desulpherisation (FGD) equipment. Once fully operational in 1995, it removes 90% of sulphur dioxide emissions, making it the cleanest coal-fired power station in the UK.

1990

Drax Power Station comes under the ownership of National Power, one of three power generation companies created as part of the privatisation of the electricity industry in England and Wales.

1999

The power station is acquired by the US-based AES corporation for £1.87 billion.

2003

AES and Drax part ways after one of the power station’s major customers goes into administration. As creditors, various financial institutions take control of Drax Power Station.

Drax Power Station starts co-firing biomass, as a renewable energy alternative to coal.

2004

Drax Power station starts research and development for direct fuel injection of biomass into its coal generating units. Bypassing the pulverising mills directly into the boiler for greater throughput.

2005

Drax Power Station undergoes refinancing and Drax Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

2008

Boosted-over-fire-air (BOFA) technology is retrofitted to all boilers and emissions of nitrous oxide (NOX) are reduced ensuring Drax Power Station is compliant with a strengthened Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD).

2009

Drax Group acquires Haven Power, enabling the group to supply a proportion of the electricity it generates directly to businesses and organisations.

2012

Drax Power Station completes a five-year, £100 million plus project – the largest steam turbine modernisation programme in UK history – to upgrade its high- and low-pressure turbines. This saves around one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking 275,000 cars off the UK’s roads.

That same year, Drax commits to transforming the business into a mainly biomass-fuelled generator using compressed wood pellets in place of coal. It plans to upgrade the three generating units that came online in the early 1970s.

2013

The first of three power generating units is successfully upgraded to use compressed wood pellets in April.

In December, new biomass receipt, storage and distribution systems to support the move from fossil fuels to renewables are officially opened.

2014

The second power generating unit is upgraded to biomass in May.

Additionally, Drax completes construction of four large storage domes used to house the biomass supply. Each dome is bigger than the Royal Albert Hall, can hold 75,000 tonnes of high-density wood pellets and is explosion proof.

2015

Drax Biomass Inc. completes construction of two new pellet manufacturing facilities in Mississippi and Louisiana. It also opens its port facility on the Mississippi River in Greater Baton Rouge.

Work is undertaken to partially upgrade a third coal unit to run on compressed wood pellets. Drax awaits European Commission approval for the full conversion.

 

2016

NERA and Imperial College London publish a study commissioned by Drax on the Whole System Costs of renewable power technologies and finds that £2 billion in energy bills could be saved if government supports a further unit conversion alongside a mix of offshore wind and solar power.

The group announces that 70% of the electricity it generates is through compressed wood pellets – around 20% of the UK’s renewable power. Only 30% of its electricity is coal-fired.

Drax states its intention to build four new open cycle gas turbine power stations – two in England and two in Wales. The first two OCGTs would come online from around 2021, playing an important role in supporting a flexible, reliable and affordable energy system.

2017

Drax acquires Opus Energy, the UK’s largest non-domestic energy supplier outside of the Big 6. A third pellet mill – LaSalle BioEnergy in Louisiana – is purchased by Drax Biomass.

Drax reveals it is planning for the option to repower one or two remaining coal units to gas and build up to 200MW of battery storage on site.