Author: Alice Roberts

Track-1 expansion process update

As part of the update, DESNZ set out its draft expectation to run the Track-1 extension and Track-2 processes in parallel, subject to T&S capacity and ministerial sign off. Following the designation of the Viking CCS cluster as a Track-2 cluster in July 2023, there are now two potential routes which could support the Drax Power Station BECCS project and wider CCS in the Humber region by 2030 – the East Coast Cluster and Viking CCS cluster.

DESNZ also set out an indicative timeline that shortlisted projects would commence negotiations from Autumn 2024. DESNZ will now receive feedback on its draft proposals pending further updates and the publication of final guidance in due course.

Will Gardiner, Drax CEO, said:

“The Government’s statements are a helpful step forward not just for BECCS in the UK, but for the wider fight against climate change. We can only reach net zero by investing in critical, new green technologies such as BECCS. I welcome the Government’s draft position and urge them to progress with both Track-1 expansion and Track-2 processes in parallel this winter”.

Separately, in August 2023 the UK Government published a Biomass Strategy which set out its position on the use of biomass in the UK’s plans for delivering net zero. The Biomass Strategy outlined the potential “extraordinary” role which biomass can play across the economy in power, heating and transport, including a priority role for BECCS, which is seen as critical for meeting net zero plans due to its ability to provide large-scale carbon dioxide removals. This is in addition to formal bilateral discussions between Drax and the Government in relation to a potential bridging mechanism between the end of the current renewable schemes in 2027 and the commissioning of BECCS at Drax Power Station.

Enquiries:

Drax Investor Relations:
Mark Strafford
+44 (0) 7730 763 949

Media:

Drax External Communications:
Aidan Kerr
+44 (0) 0784 909 0368

Website: www.Drax.com

END

Hear from the experts: the world needs carbon removals

Capturing the opportunity

Drax has an ambition to be a global leader in carbon removals and we have bold plans to eradicate 14 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere a year by 2030. The scale of this ambition reflects what I see as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a founding player in a market which will play a critical role in tackling climate change.

Read Will Gardiner’s latest article here.

Go further with carbon removals by Drax here

Biomass and BECCS are essential in the UK’s journey to Net Zero

The Strategy provides an important steer on the short-, medium- and long-term use of biomass in the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target.

With the Government’s Strategy in hand, I am more certain than ever on two things.  First, that there remains a clear and powerful role for biomass and BECCS in helping the UK balance harder to abate sectors, like aviation, and reach Net Zero.

And secondly, that bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) has a vital role to play in our global energy transition – and that Drax is well placed to deliver.

Why we should be confident

In developing the Strategy, the Government has considered several factors including: availability of biomass and the priorities for end use; impacts on air quality; the sustainability of biomass use; as well as the role of BECCS in helping to reach our long-term climate goals.

The ‘Priority Use Framework’ evaluates where biomass would be most sustainably and efficiently used across sectors, given supply constraints. This framework is an important tool, which has been developed with four key principles in mind; sustainability; air quality; the circular economy and resource efficiency; and ability to support us getting to Net Zero.

Critically, the Priority Use Framework states that:

  1. In the short-term (2020s) government will continue to facilitate sustainable biomass deployment through a range of incentives and requirements covering power, heat and transport
  2. In the medium-term (to 2035) government intends to further develop biomass use for utilities such as heat and power with a view to where possible transition to BECCS
  3. Biomass for use in BECCS should be prioritised in the long term (to 2050)

It’s very encouraging to see Government recognise the important role that biomass plays in our energy transition in both the short and medium term, as well as its prioritisation of BECCS in the long term.

Although there are various routes for deploying BECCS across different industries, the strategy further prioritises the deployment of BECCS on existing biomass generation plants with established supply chains, further supported by the development of the Power-BECCS business model for the first BECCS projects.

The Strategy is also promising as it presents an evidence-driven basis for long-term policy stability and I believe if the Government continues in this direction, it will draw investment to the UK’s bioenergy industry.

Why this is critical for the country

Biomass has already played an important role in supporting energy security while helping the UK decarbonise, displacing fossil fuels with a source of renewable, dispatchable power. Our work has also made a significant contribution to the UK economy, adding an estimated £1.8 billion to the UK GDP and supporting 17,800 jobs in 2021 alone.

And, looking to the future, BECCS presents an enormous opportunity to the UK.

Early investment in this critical technology has the potential to support energy security, and climate targets whilst creating jobs and making the UK a leader in the potentially trillion-dollar global CDR market.

This work needs to happen now – nearly all realistic pathways to limit warming to 1.5C require the carbon removal technology and renewable power BECCS offers, and expert voices at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UK’s Climate Change Committee, and Forum for the Future have said that carbon removals will be needed to address the climate crisis.

Today’s Strategy is a clear signal from Government that they recognise the importance of BECCS and the urgency with which we must employ it within the UK.

Why this is encouraging for Drax

Drax is an international, growing, sustainable business at the heart of global efforts to deliver Net Zero and energy security and I believe the Strategy we have seen from Government today is a clear indication of their support for the work that we do.

With BECCS, Drax has the ability to become a global leader in carbon removals technology. We are engaged in formal discussions with the UK Government about the project and, providing these are successful, we plan to invest billions in transforming Drax Power Station into the world’s largest carbon removals project. The prioritisation of BECCS within the Priority Use Framework shows the Government is aligned to this vision.

As we look forward

We welcome the Government’s Biomass Strategy and will continue to unpack what it means for our business over the coming days and weeks with a mind to our next steps.

Government must now ensure that as it progresses its consultation on biomass sustainability that that process is equally evidence-driven and ensures that science-based methods drive the policy forward. We hope to continue to work alongside Government to support these efforts.

Our formal discussions with the UK Government on BECCS and a ‘bridging mechanism’ to support the transition to BECCS have been productive, but to realise the scale of the ambition included in the Government’s Strategy, we need commitment through the delivery of a clear business model that supports BECCS.

Today’s support from Government brings us a big step closer and we look forward to continuing the work.

Will Gardiner
CEO
Drax

Read RNS here

UK Biomass Strategy – Highly Supportive of Biomass and a Priority Role for BECCS

The Strategy outlines the potential extraordinary role which biomass can play across the economy in power, heating and transport, including a priority role for Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), which is seen as critical for meeting net zero plans due to its ability to provide large-scale carbon removals.

Will Gardiner, Drax CEO, said:

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO

“We welcome the UK Government’s clear support for sustainably sourced biomass and the critical role that BECCS can play in achieving the country’s climate goals.

“The inclusion of BECCS at the top of a priority use framework is a clear signal that the UK wants to be a leader in carbon removals and Drax is ready to deliver on this ambition. We are engaged in formal discussions with the UK Government about the project and, providing these are successful, we plan to invest billions in delivering BECCS at Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, simultaneously providing reliable, renewable power and carbon removals.

“We look forward to working alongside the Government to ensure biomass is best used to contribute to net zero across the economy, through further progression of plans for BECCS and ensuring an evidence-driven, best practice approach to sustainability.”

A priority role for BECCS

The Strategy reiterates the Government’s ambition to deliver 5Mt pa of carbon removals by 2030, with the potential for this to increase to 23Mt by 2035 and up to 81Mt by 2050, with BECCS expected to provide the majority of the total in 2050.

In the period to 2035 Government intends to facilitate the use of biomass for power and heating, whilst supporting projects transitioning to BECCS. BECCS projects, which includes Drax Power Station, are seen as a priority use of biomass given existing generation assets with established supply chains and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology ready to be deployed. Beyond 2035 there will remain a role for biomass without BECCS in harder to decarbonise sectors and in supporting energy security.

The Strategy notes the active work in government to support BECCS, including the development of business models.

Biomass availability and sustainability

The Strategy considers the global availability of sustainable biomass, finding that by using domestic and imported biomass sources there is sufficient material to meet estimated future demand in the 6th Carbon Budget.

Alongside the increased use of sustainable biomass, Government will continue to develop sustainability criteria and Drax supports the development of robust standards across sectors.

A link to the Strategy can be found here.

Scientific assessment of carbon removals from BECCS

Alongside publication of the Strategy, the Government has published an evidence-based assessment of BECCS as a route to negative emissions. The report sets out how “well regulated” BECCS can deliver negative emissions and ensure positive outcomes for people, the environment, and the climate.

BECCS at Drax Power Station

In March 2023, the Government confirmed its commitment to support the deployment of large-scale Power-BECCS projects by 2030 and that the Drax Power Station BECCS project had passed the deliverability assessment for the Power-BECCS project submission process.

Formal bilateral discussions with the Government are ongoing to move the project forward and help realise the Government’s ambition to deliver 5Mt pa of carbon removals by 2030. These discussions include a bridging mechanism between the end of the current renewable schemes in 2027 and the commissioning of BECCS at Drax Power Station.

Drax believes that BECCS at Drax Power Station is the only project in the UK that can enable the Government to achieve this ambition, in addition to the large-scale renewable power and system support services it provides to the UK power system.

In July 2023, the Government designated the Viking CCS cluster as a Track 2 cluster. Progressing a CO2 transport and storage network in the Humber represents a significant step toward helping the region meet its net zero ambitions and ensuring that it remains a source of high-skilled jobs and energy security for decades to come. Along with the East Coast Cluster, Viking creates an additional potential pathway to support BECCS at Drax Power Station.

The Government has also confirmed that during 2023 it will set out a process for the expansion of its wider CCS programme for individual projects, including BECCS (Track 1 expansion and Track 2).

Enquiries:

Drax Investor Relations:

Mark Strafford
+44 (0) 7730 763 949

Media:

Drax External Communications:

Chris Mostyn
+44 (0) 7548 838 896

Sloan Woods
+44 (0) 7821 665 493

END

Half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2023

RNS Number: 3301H
Drax Group plc
(“Drax” or the “Group”; Symbol:DRX)

Six months ended 30 June20232022
Key financial performance measures
Adjusted EBITDA (£ million)(1)(2)(excl. Electricity Generator Levy) (EGL)(3)453225
Adjusted EBITDA (£ million)(1)(2)(incl. EGL)417225
Net debt (£ million)(4)1,2741,116
Adjusted basic EPS (pence)(1)46.020.0
Dividend (pence per share)9.28.4
Total financial performance measures from continuing operations
Operating profit (£ million)392207
Profit before tax (£ million)338200

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group, said:

“In the first half of 2023, we delivered a strong system support and generation performance, providing dispatchable, renewable power for millions of UK homes and businesses. Drax Power Station remained the UK’s single largest provider of renewable energy by output during the period.

“We continue to focus on our role as the UK’s leading generator of flexible renewable power and our ambition to be a world leader in carbon removals. To that end, in the US, we have made good progress screening options for BECCS projects which can deliver long-term, large-scale carbon removal and attractive opportunities for growth.

“We are excited about the opportunity for BECCS in the UK and are in formal discussions with the UK Government to facilitate the transition to BECCS at Drax Power Station by 2030. Our plans could create thousands of new jobs in the Humber region, help the UK meet its carbon removals targets and support long-term energy security.”

Financial highlights – strong financial performance and returns to shareholders

  • Adjusted EBITDA (excl. EGL) of £453 million up 101% (H1 2022: £225 million)
    • Driven by system support services and dispatchable, renewable generation
  • Strong liquidity and balance sheet – £586 million of cash and committed facilities at 30 June 2023
    • Expect Net debt to Adjusted EBITDA (incl. EGL) to be significantly below 2 times target at the end of 2023
  • Sustainable and growing dividend – expected full year dividend up 10% to 23.1 p/share (2022: 21.0 p/share)
    • Interim dividend of 9.2 p/share (H1 2022: 8.4 p/share) – 40% of full year expectation
  • £150 million share buy-back programme ongoing(5)

2023 outlook

  • Full year expectations for Adjusted EBITDA and EGL unchanged and in line with analysts’ consensus estimates(6), inclusive of increased development expenditure on US BECCS
  • For the remainder of 2023 Drax will present Adjusted EBITDA including and excluding EGL

Progressing options for £7 billion of strategic growth opportunities 2024-2030, primarily BECCS

  • Ambition for the development of over 20Mt pa of carbon removals – 14Mt pa by 2030
    • New-build BECCS – two sites selected in US – targeting c.6Mt pa by 2030
    • Evaluating additional sites for greenfield and brownfield BECCS in US
    • Drax Power Station – targeting 8Mt pa by 2030
  • Targeting 8Mt pa of pellet production capacity and 4Mt pa of third-party sales by 2030
  • Targeting 600MW expansion of Cruachan Pumped Storage Power Station by 2030
    • Planning approval granted (July 2023)

UK BECCS

  • UK BECCS investment paused, subject to further clarity on support for BECCS at Drax Power Station
  • Formal discussions with UK Government – bridging mechanism between end of current renewable schemes in 2027 and BECCS

Operational review

Pellet Production – production and sales supporting UK generation, and sales to third parties

  • Adjusted EBITDA £48 million (H1 2022: £45 million)
  • Integrated supply chain model supports resilience and opportunities in a challenging market
    • Producer, user and seller of biomass pellets across multiple international markets
  • Production of 1.9Mt (H1 2022: 2.0Mt)
    • Unplanned outages, wind damage at Port of Baton Rouge and temporary suspension of production at one site due to wildfires, partially offset by production at the Demopolis plant
    • Ongoing disruption in H2 from wildfires and industrial action by Canadian transport workers in July
  • Increase in production cost (maintenance, labour, transport, energy and fibre costs) offset by revenue growth
  • Progressing development of new Longview pellet plant and Aliceville expansion
    • Investment of c.$300 million, operational 2025, 0.6Mt of new capacity
  • Third-party sales – heads of terms agreed for sale of 0.5Mt of biomass over five years to a Japanese customer

Generation – renewable generation and system support services

  • UK’s largest source of renewable power by output, primarily biomass generation at Drax Power Station
    • 9% of annualised UK renewables(7)
  • Adjusted EBITDA (excl. EGL) £457 million up 123% (H1 2022: £205 million)
    • Adjusted EBITDA (incl. EGL) £421 million up 106% (H1 2022: £205 million, £nil EGL)
  • Biomass generation – strong system support and renewable generation performance
    • Period-on-period reduction in generation
      • Maintenance – first major planned outage completed, second major planned outage in H2 2023 and forced outage on one unit due to a transformer issue – unit back in service
    • Higher achieved power price and value from system support
    • Higher biomass costs
  • Pumped storage and hydro – strong system support and generation performance
    • £154 million Adjusted EBITDA (excl. EGL) (H1 2022: £53 million)
    • Includes forward sale of peak power (winter 2022)
    • Increased level of wind capacity, intermittency and volatility underpin long-term need for dispatchable generation
  • Coal – no generation in 2023 – currently decommissioning following formal closure (March 2023)
  • As at 21 July 2023, Drax had 28.1TWh of power hedged between 2023 and 2025 on its ROC, pumped storage and hydro generation assets at an average price of £150.0/MWh(8)
    • Excludes sales under the CfD mechanism, which remains available subject to good ROC unit operational performance and market conditions
Contracted power sales 21 July 2023202320242025
Net ROC, hydro and gas (TWh(8/9/10))11.711.25.2
Average achieved £ per MWh162.7147.5126.2
Lower expected level of ROC generation in 2023 due to major planned outages on two units

Customers – renewable power sales to high-quality Industrial & Commercial (I&C) customers

  • Adjusted EBITDA of £37 million (H1 2022: £24 million) reflects continued improvement in I&C portfolio
    • 8.0TWh of power sales to I&C customers – c.16% increase compared to H1 2022 (6.9TWh)

Other financial information

Adjusted EBITDA and EGL

  • Accrued costs for EGL for the first time in H1 2023 and reported EGL within Adjusted EBITDA
    • H1 charge of £35 million
    • H2 charge expected to increase significantly reflecting higher achieved power price in H2
  • For the remainder of 2023 Drax will present Adjusted EBITDA including and excluding EGL

Profits

  • Total operating profit of £392 million (H1 2022: £207 million), including £85 million mark-to-market gain on derivative contracts
  • Total profit after tax of £247 million (H1 2022: £148 million profit after tax, including an £8 million non-cash charge from revaluing deferred tax balances) includes an increase in the headline rate of corporation tax in the UK from 19% to 25% from 1 April 2023
  • Depreciation and amortisation of £109 million (H1 2022: £121 million)

Capital investment

  • Capital investment of £210 million (H1 2022: £60 million) – primarily maintenance and development of OCGTs
  • 2023 expected capital investment of £520-580 million
    • Includes £120-140 million maintenance, including two major planned outages on biomass units; £30 million enhancements; £340-380 million strategic, including OCGT and pellet plant developments
    • OCGTs – c.900MW – three new-build sites in England and Wales, commissioning in 2024 – continuing to evaluate options for these projects, including their potential sale
    • Reduction in expected annual investment due to pause in investment in UK BECCS

Cash and interest

  • Group cost of debt c.4.6%
  • Cash generated from operations £404 million (H1 2022: £185 million)
  • Net debt of £1,274 million (31 December 2022: £1,206 million), including cash and cash equivalents of £125 million (31 December 2022: £238 million)

Capital allocation policy – unchanged

  • Continue to assess capital requirements in line with the current policy
    • Considerations include the timing of capital deployment, leverage profile, any dilution from share issuance and divestment of non-core assets

Progressing Global BECCS opportunities

RNS Number : 2686A
Drax Group plc
(“Drax” or the “Group”; Symbol:DRX)

Ambition for the development of over 20Mt of carbon removals – 14Mt pa by 2030

  • New-build BECCS – two sites selected in US – targeting c.6Mt pa by 2030
  • Evaluating nine additional sites in US for greenfield and brownfield BECCS
  • Option for CCS on a pellet plant – targeting FID in 2024/25, commissioning in 2026
  • Targeting 8Mt pa at Drax Power Station by 2030
  • Establishing HQ for Global BECCS in Houston, Texas

Progress on Global BECCS commercial arrangements

  • MoU with Respira for sale of up to 2Mt of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) certificates
  • Other MoUs agreed for sale of CDRs – c.$300/t on small volumes
  • MoUs agreed with leading forestry and Transportation and Storage (T&S) companies

Attractive portfolio of investment opportunities

  • £7bn of strategic growth opportunities between 2024 and 2030
    • 14Mt pa of carbon removals from BECCS, pellet production and pumped storage hydro
  • Targeting returns significantly in excess of the Group’s cost of capital

2023 outlook

  • Expectations for Adjusted EBITDA(1) remain in line with analysts’ consensus estimates(2)

Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner said:

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO

“The world’s leading climate scientists at the UN’s IPCC are clear – the planet cannot solve the climate crisis without the combination of reliable, renewable electricity and carbon removal technologies.

“Drax is a growing and sustainable, international business providing flexible, renewable energy and carbon removals solutions, via BECCS, which put us at the heart of global efforts to deliver net zero and energy security.

“Our plans to invest billions in critical renewable energy and carbon removal technologies will help to tackle the climate crisis and could create thousands of jobs whilst generating secure, renewable power. This investment is underpinned by our strong operational performance.”

Capital Markets Day

Drax is today hosting a Capital Markets Day for investors and analysts.

Will Gardiner and members of his leadership team will update on the Group’s strategy, market opportunities and development projects, including the progress Drax is making in the development of BECCS in North America and the opportunities this represents for the Group.

Purpose and ambition

The Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and its ambition is to be a carbon negative company by 2030. The Group aims to realise its purpose and ambition through three strategic pillars, which are closely aligned with global energy policies that increasingly recognise the role that biomass can play in the fight against climate change.

The Group’s three strategic pillars remain (1) to be a global leader in carbon removals, (2) to be a global leader in sustainable biomass pellets, and (3) to be a UK leader in dispatchable, renewable generation.

Global need for carbon removals

Research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(3), the world’s leading authority on climate science, states that CDR methods, including BECCS, are needed to mitigate residual emissions and keep the world on a pathway to limit global warming to 1.5oC.

All of the illustrative mitigation pathways assessed in the IPCC’s latest report use significant volumes of carbon removals, including BECCS, as a key tool for mitigating climate change. The IPCC believes that globally up to 9.5 billion tonnes of CDRs via BECCS will be required per year by 2050.

In the USA, the supportive investment environment created by the Inflation Reduction Act is stimulating action and robust pricing for CDRs.

BECCS – North America

Over the past two years, Drax has been progressing a number of work streams to develop its options for BECCS, with a primary focus on North America.

Drax has continued to develop plans for a new-build BECCS power unit capable of producing c.2TWh of renewable electricity from sustainable biomass and capturing c.3Mt of carbon per year. Two initial sites in the US South have been selected and are progressing to option, although the precise details remain commercially sensitive. The two sites combined could enable the capture of c.6Mt of carbon per year by 2030.

Total investment would be in the region of $2 billion per plant with a target FID in 2026 and commercial operation by 2030. The capital cost reflects the construction of new-build power generation as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems.

The design of new-build BECCS enables a wider choice of biomass materials, including non-pelletised material, such as woodchips. Drax aims to locate new plants in regions which are closer to sources of sustainable biomass and T&S systems to permanently store CO2. This is expected to significantly reduce the operating cost of new-build BECCS compared to retrofit, as well as carbon emissions in the supply chain.

The Group is continuing to evaluate nine further sites in North America, creating a pipeline of development opportunities into the 2030s.

Commercial arrangements

The commercial model for US BECCS includes Power Purchase Agreements, long-term CDR offtake agreements and a direct pay tax incentive under the Inflation Reduction Act of $85/tonne.

Drax believes that the role of high-quality, permanent removals, such as BECCS and Direct Air Capture, will grow significantly as governments and companies take action to address their own carbon footprints. In September 2022, Drax announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for one of the world’s biggest carbon removals deal with Respira, a carbon broker. Under the terms of the MoU, Respira will be able to purchase up to 2Mt of CDRs over a five-year period from Drax’s North American BECCS projects.

Drax has also agreed MoUs with C-Zero, a carbon broker, for the sale of CDRs at c.$300/tonne.

Resourcing

To support the development of its BECCS projects in North America, Drax has hired 80 employees across the US and Canada and is in the process of establishing a Global BECCS headquarters in Houston, Texas, which will provide access to the highly skilled workforce needed to support the growth of this part of the Group.

Other developments

In addition to new-build BECCS, Drax is currently developing an option for a project to add a carbon capture process to an existing pellet plant in Louisiana. The project would have the capacity to capture over 100k tonnes of CO2 per year from the pelleting process, providing an early demonstration of the technology and creating CDRs which can help to stimulate this nascent market. The project, which has a capital cost in the region of $150 million, is targeting FID in 2024/25 and commissioning in 2026.

The Group is also assessing options for BECCS on existing non-Drax assets and is continuing to screen other regions, including Europe and Australasia.

Capital allocation

The Group has previously outlined a fully funded plan to invest c.£3 billion in two BECCS units at Drax Power Station, pellet production and pumped storage hydro.

Today, the Group expands on this plan to include two new-build BECCS plants and CCS on a pellet plant, increasing the total potential investment to c.£7 billion between 2024 and 2030.

Any final investment decisions will be subject to the achievement of project milestones, including further progress on commercial arrangements as well as clarity on regulatory and funding mechanisms.

Reflecting strong expected cash generation from existing assets and new investments, Drax can fully fund the £7bn of opportunities and return to net debt to Adjusted EBITDA below 2x by the end of 2031. Drax will also continue to assess a wider range of funding options, including project finance.

The Group remains committed to its capital allocation policy, which was established in 2017, and has delivered average annual dividend per share growth of around 11%.

The Group has commenced a £150 million share buyback programme, which is expected to complete by the end of 2023. The programme is not expected to have any impact on the Group’s medium and long-term growth plans and, beyond the current buyback programme, will continue to assess its capital requirements in line with the current policy, including the return of excess capital to shareholders.

Outlook

The Group’s outlook for 2023, as set out in its recent Trading Update, remains unchanged and provides a strong platform for long-term investment and returns to shareholders.

Drax continues to expect full year Adjusted EBITDA(1) for 2023 to be in line with analysts’ consensus estimates(2), subject to continued good operational performance.

Webcast and presentation material

The event will be webcast from 2pm (UK) and the material made available on the Group’s website at that time. Joining instructions for the webcast and presentation are included in the links below.

https://secure.emincote.com/client/drax/drax025
https://www.drax.com/investors/announcements-events-reports/presentations/

Notes:
[1] Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation, excluding the impact of exceptional items and certain remeasurements. Excludes the Electricity Generator Levy, which is currently presented as a tax and reflected in EPS.
[2] As of 18 May 2023, analyst consensus for 2023 Adjusted EBITDA was £1,162 million, with a range of £1,100 – 1,200 million. The details of this company collected consensus are displayed on the Group’s website. Excludes the Electricity Generator Levy, which is currently presented as a tax and reflected in EPS.
[3] IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group III (2022).
https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Company-Collected-Consensus-May-2023.pdf

Enquiries:

Drax Investor Relations: Mark Strafford
+44 (0) 7730 763 949

Media:

Drax External Communications: Chris Mostyn
+44 (0) 7548 838 896

Drax enters formal discussions with UK Government on large-scale Power BECCS

Drax has been invited to enter formal bilateral discussions with the Government immediately, to move the project forward and ensure the Government is able to fulfil its restated commitment to achieving 5Mtpa of engineered Greenhouse Gas Removals (GGRs) by 2030. Drax believes that BECCS at Drax Power Station is the only project that can enable the Government to achieve this goal(1). The Government has also committed to publish its biomass strategy by the end of June 2023 which will set out how the technology could be deployed.

During 2022 carbon removal projects, including Power BECCS, were progressed in parallel with the Track 1 process for gas, hydrogen and industrial CCS projects. While Power BECCS and other shortlisted projects are not included in the immediate Track 1 process, the Government has confirmed that in 2023 it will set out a process for the expansion of Track 1 and has today launched Track 2. BECCS is eligible for both.

Separately, the Government has stated that it will work closely with electricity generators currently using biomass to facilitate a transition to Power BECCS.

The Government has also confirmed that its response to the Power BECCS business model consultation, which took place in 2022, will be published imminently, providing further clarity on the delivery of BECCS as soon as possible.

Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner said:

“Delivery of BECCS at Drax Power Station will help the UK achieve its net zero targets, create thousands of jobs across the north and help ensure the UK’s long-term energy security.

“We note confirmation that our project has met the Government’s deliverability criteria and Government remains committed to achieve 5Mtpa of engineered Greenhouse Gas Removals by 2030 – a goal that cannot be achieved without BECCS at Drax Power Station. We will immediately enter into formal discussions with Government to take our project forward.

“With the right engagement from Government and swift decision making, Drax stands ready to progress our £2bn investment programme and deliver this critical project for the UK by 2030.”

The Government recognises the important role which BECCS will play in delivering net zero and aims to deploy 5Mt of engineered CO2 removals per annum from BECCS and other engineered GGR technologies by 2030, rising to 23Mt in 2035 and up to 81Mt in 2050 to keep the UK on a pathway to meet its legislated climate targets, The Sixth Carbon Budget and net zero.

Drax Power Station is the UK’s largest single source of renewable electricity and BECCS is the only technology that can produce reliable renewable power, provide system support services and permanently remove CO2 at scale. 

Coal closure

Drax continues to expect to close its two legacy coal units at the end of March 2023.

Notes

(1)  In its Energy White Paper, Government noted that biomass is unique amongst renewable technologies in the wide array of applications in which it can be used as a substitute for fossil-fuel based products and activities, along with its ability to deliver permanent carbon removals.

Government recognises that biomass is one of the UKs most valuable tools for reaching net zero emissions while maintaining energy security.

Biomass is the only large-scale source of dispatchable, renewable electricity and Drax power station in Yorkshire is the largest provider of secure supply in the UK’s electricity system. Its renewable biomass generation provides 2.6GW of electricity, representing 4% of the UK’s dispatchable capacity and supplies millions of homes and businesses with dispatchable, reliable power. 

The project at Drax Power Station is expected to be the world’s biggest engineered carbon removal project, permanently removing 8Mt of CO2 from the atmosphere every year by 2030.

The project would see the addition of post combustion carbon capture to two of the existing biomass units, using sustainable biomass and technology from Drax’s technology partner, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Captured CO2 would be transported and permanently stored by the Group’s partners in the East Coast Cluster.

Vivid Economics concluded that it could deliver £370 million of economic benefit for the UK during construction, creating and supporting more than 10,000 jobs during peak construction.

Recent Baringa research also demonstrates that Drax is the UK’s largest source of energy security and will continue to play a vital role in the UK security of supply in to the late 2020s.

Drax aims to source 80% of materials and services for the project from British businesses and is also working with British Steel to explore opportunities for its UK production facilities to supply a proportion of the steel needed for BECCS.

A link to the Government’s announcement can be found here.

Enquiries:

Drax Investor Relations: Mark Strafford

+44 (0) 7730 763 949

Media:

Drax External Communications: Chris Mostyn

+44 (0) 7548 838 896

Full year results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2022

RNS Number : 7781Q
Drax Group PLC
23 February 2023

Twelve months ended 31 December20222021
Key financial performance measures
Adjusted EBITDA (£ million) (1)(2)731398
Net debt (£ million) (3)1,2061,108
Net debt to Adjusted EBITDA1.6x2.8x
Adjusted basic EPS (pence)(1) (1)85.126.5
Total dividend (pence per share)21.018.8
Total financial performance measures from continuing operations
Operating profit (£ million)146197
Profit before tax (£ million)78122

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group, said:

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO

“Drax delivered a strong performance in 2022, and played a significant role in ensuring security of supply during a challenging year for the UK’s energy system.

“Our renewable generation – biomass, hydro and pumped storage – are a major source of power in the UK and during periods of peak demand when there was low wind and solar power, these assets collectively supplied up to 70% of the UK’s renewable power in certain periods.

“We believe that BECCS can become a world-leading solution for large-scale high-quality carbon removals and we are seeing increasing global policy support for its delivery.

“Drax stands ready to invest billions of pounds in the development of this technology and, following the introduction of the US Inflation Reduction Act, we are increasingly excited about the opportunities to deploy BECCS in the US. In response, the UK Government should accelerate its policy support for BECCS to make the UK a world leader in carbon removals, while attracting investment and delivering its net zero targets.

“Drax is a growing international business with strong cash returns which we are reinvesting to produce more renewable energy and deliver carbon removals while reducing our own carbon emissions. We aim to be at the heart of the energy transition, creating the jobs, renewable power and large-scale carbon removals that the world needs.”

Financial highlights – strong financial performance underpinning investment and a sustain and growing dividend

  • Adjusted EBITDA of £731 million up 84% (2021: £398 million)
  • Strong liquidity and balance sheet – £698 million of cash and committed facilities at 31 December 2022
    • 1.6x Net debt to Adjusted EBITDA – significantly below 2x target
  • Total dividend increased 11.7% to 21.0 pence per share (2021: 18.8 pence per share)
    • Proposed final dividend of 12.6 pence per share (2021: 11.3 pence per share)

Operational highlights – optimisation of supply chain and generation to support security of supply

  • UK’s largest source of renewable power by output – 11% of annualised total, 19% of peak (up to 70% in-day peak)

Strategy highlights – developing a pipeline for carbon removals, biomass and dispatchable, renewable power

  • Ambition to be a global leader in carbon removals
    • Global BECCS – developing a pipeline of projects in the US targeting long-term large-scale carbon removal
      • First new-build site chosen, with over 10 sites currently under evaluation
      • MoU agreed with large timberland owner to develop a pipeline of BECCS opportunities
      • MoU agreed with Respira for sale of 2Mt of carbon removals from new-build BECCS plants
    • UK BECCS – UK Government to confirm shortlisting for “Track 1” UK BECCS projects
  • Ambition to be a global leader in sustainable biomass – targeting 8Mt of capacity and 4Mt of third-party sales by 2030
    • Addition of 0.5Mt of operational pellet production capacity and final investment decision (FID) on 0.6Mt in 2023
  • Ambition to be a UK leader in dispatchable, renewable power
    • Aim to reach agreement regarding long-term incentives for biomass generation not operating as BECCS
    • Planning application submitted for 600MW expansion of Cruachan and connection agreement secured

Future positive – climate, nature, people

  • Exiting gas sales on Customers SME business
  • Drax Power Station sustainability sourcing requirements are compliant with UK law on sustainable sourcing
  • Biomass produced using material from well-established forestry markets in the US, Canada and Europe
  • Subject to national and regional regulation and typically supported by, and independently monitored for compliance by, forest certification schemes such as: the Forestry Stewardship Council® (FSC)(4), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification© (PEFC)(5)
  • Launch of Drax Foundation to deliver community initiatives that support education and skills development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), and that improve green spaces and enhance biodiversity within local communities

Operational review

Pellet Production – increased production, flexible operations to support UK generation, addition of 0.5Mt of capacity

  • Adjusted EBITDA up 56% to £134 million (2021: £86 million)
    • Production up 26% to 3.9Mt (2021: 3.1Mt, including Pinnacle since 13 April 2021)
    • Lower than planned production – delays achieving full production at new plants, North American rail restrictions and flexible production
  • Optimisation of supply chain supports value for the Group
    • Flexible production to support generation
    • Sales to third parties under long-term contracts
    • Spot sales and purchases
  • Addition of c.0.5Mt of production capacity – Demopolis, Leola and Russellville – completing commissioning and acquisition of Princeton
  • 6% year-on-year production cost increase to $152/t(6) (2021: $143/t(6))
    • Inflation impact on utility costs (>35%) and fuel surcharges (barge and rail transport to port (>20%))
  • Outlook – clear pathway to improved earnings profile
    • Incremental production at existing sites and addition of new capacity
    • Continued headwind from inflation in 2023
    • Development and introduction of new technologies and innovation, including c.£10 million R&D investment in a biomass sugar extraction plant
    • Increased use of residuals and a wider range of sustainable biomass materials

Generation – flexible operations and dispatch to capture value – increased system support and security of supply

  • Adjusted EBITDA £696 million up 87% (2021: £372 million)
    • Optimisation of generation and logistics to support UK security of supply at times of higher demand
      • Summer – lower power demand, lower power generation and sale of reprofiled biomass
      • Winter – maximise biomass deliveries to support increased generation at times of higher demand
    • Higher biomass and system costs reflecting a more challenging energy environment
  • Strong pumped storage and hydro performance – value from increased system support activity and generation
  • Six-month extension of coal at request of UK Government – winter contingency contract for security of supply
    • Units not called other than for testing
    • Closure of coal units in March 2023 following expiration of current agreement
  • As at 17 February 2023, Drax had 23.3TWh of power hedged between 2023 and 2025 on its ROC and hydro generation assets at an average price of £152.8/MWh, inclusive of equivalent gas sales (transacted for the purpose of accessing additional liquidity for forward sales from ROC units and highly correlated to forward power prices) and the cost of unwinding equivalent gas sales. Excludes any sales under the CfD mechanism.
Contracted power sales as at 17 February 2023202320242025
Net ROC, hydro and gas (TWh(7/8/9))12.49.01.9
-Average achieved £ per MWh (£ per MWh)158.1149.2135.7
Lower expected level of ROC generation in 2023 due to major planned outages on two units

Electricity pylons take flexible power generated from water stored in a reservoir at Cruachan Power Station in the Highlands into the national grid

Customers – renewable power under long-term contracts to high-quality I&C customers and decarbonisation products

  • Adjusted EBITDA of £26 million (2021: £6 million) – continued improvement in profitability post impact of Covid-19
  • Continued development of Industrial & Commercial (I&C) portfolio
    • 14.8TWh of power sales – 24% increase compared to 2021 (11.9TWh)
    • Commencement of new supply contracts to three major high-quality customers supporting generation route to market

Other financial information

Profits

  • Total operating profit from continuing operations of £146 million (2021: £197 million), including £298 million mark-to-market loss on derivative contracts and £25 million of exceptional costs
  • Total profit after tax of £83 million (2021: £55 million profit after tax from continuing operations, including a £49 million non-cash charge from revaluing deferred tax balances)
  • Depreciation, amortisation, impairment, loss on disposal and exceptional items of £286 million (2021: £209 million) reflects inclusion of Pinnacle for a full 12 months, plant upgrades and accelerated depreciation of certain pellet plant equipment in line with planned capital upgrades and asset impairment of £17 million

Capital investment

  • 2022 capital investment of £255 million (2021: £238 million) – includes c.£90 million from OCGT projects
  • 2023 expected capital investment of £570 – £630 million
    • £120 million maintenance, including two major planned outages on biomass units; £30 million enhancements; £430 million strategic – includes >£200 million OCGT and >£100 million pellet plant developments

Cash and interest

  • Group cost of debt below 4.2%
  • Cash Generated from Operations £320 million (2021: £354 million), inclusive of collateral payments (2021: £168 million inflow) typically associated with higher commodity prices and expected to unwind through 2023 and 2024
    • £234 million of collateral placed in 2022 (2021: £173 million held)
  • Net debt of £1,206 million (31 December 2021: £1,108 million), including cash and cash equivalents of £238 million (31 December 2021: £317 million)
    • 1.6x Net debt to Adjusted EBITDA, inclusive of temporary collateral outflows – significantly below 2x target
    • 1.3x Net debt to Adjusted EBITDA, excluding collateral

Capital allocation policy – unchanged

  • Maintain a strong balance sheet
  • Invest in the core business and strategy, including new biomass pellet plants, the development of options for BECCS, and the expansion of pumped storage power station at Cruachan
  • Pay a sustainable and growing dividend
  • Return surplus capital to shareholders – if there is a build-up of capital, the Board will consider the most appropriate mechanism to return this to shareholders
    • Considerations include – timing of capital deployment, leverage profile, prevention of dilution and divestment of non-core assets

2023 financial and operational outlook

  • Continued optimisation of biomass supply chain and generation to create value for the Group
  • Baseload ROC generation, plus two planned major outages
  • CfD unit held in reserve – operation subject to good ROC unit operational performance and market conditions
  • Biomass generation cost >£100/MWh
  • Forward selling of pumped storage and hydro underpins expectations
  • Electricity Generator Levy applicable to ROC and hydro assets, but not pumped storage, CfD or coal

Forward Looking Statements

This announcement may contain certain statements, expectations, statistics, projections and other information that are, or may be, forward-looking. The accuracy and completeness of all such statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding the future financial position, strategy, projected costs, plans, beliefs, and objectives for the management of future operations of Drax Group plc (“Drax”) and its subsidiaries (the “Group”), are not warranted or guaranteed. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that may occur in the future. Although Drax believes that the statements, expectations, statistics and projections and other information reflected in such statements are reasonable, they reflect the Company’s current view and no assurance can be given that they will prove to be correct. Such events and statements involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and outcomes may differ materially from those expressed or implied by those forward-looking statements. There are a number of factors, many of which are beyond the control of the Group, which could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These include, but are not limited to, factors such as: future revenues being lower than expected; increasing competitive pressures in the industry; uncertainty as to future investment and support achieved in enabling the realisation of strategic aims and objectives; and/or general economic conditions or conditions affecting the relevant industry, both domestically and internationally, being less favourable than expected, including the impact of prevailing economic and political uncertainty. We do not intend to publicly update or revise these projections or other forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, and we do not assume any responsibility for doing so.

Results presentation and webcast arrangements

Event Title: Drax Group plc: Full Year Results
Event Date: Thursday 23 February 2023
9:00am (UK time)
Webcast Live Event Link: https://secure.emincote.com/client/drax/drax024
Conference call and pre-register Link: https://secure.emincote.com/client/drax/drax024/vip_connect
Start Date: Thursday 23 February 2023
Delete Date: Thursday 23 February 2024
Archive Link:  https://secure.emincote.com/client/drax/drax024

For further information, please contact: [email protected]

View investor presentation here

Energy security shouldn’t come at the cost of climate goals

Key takeaways:

  • Europe’s energy security is dependent on moving away from imports of Russian gas, but climate targets and emissions reductions can’t be ignored.
  • The European Parliament’s proposed changes to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, in particular restrictions on the use of “primary wood biomass”, will hamper climate efforts by limiting opportunities for bioenergy.
  • Woody biomass is the EU’s largest renewable energy source, of which 51% comes from primary woody biomass, accounting for 20% of all renewable energy
  • Reports by the EU and expert parties have repeatedly pointed to bioenergy as crucial to both reducing natural gas-dependency and reaching climate goals – when sourced sustainably.
  • Restricting primary woody biomass as a feedstock for electricity and heat would exacerbate rising consumer energy prices and make long-term decarbonisation more costly.
  • EU policy decisions must support net zero goals and enhance energy security, both of which bioenergy is forecast to play a significant role in delivering.

Europe’s dependence on natural gas from Russia was thrown into painfully sharp focus in 2022. The country’s invasion of Ukraine prompted global gas supply restrictions and fears of embargos, making clear the need for Member States to rapidly move away from Russian imports and establish greater energy security.

The transition is an important juncture on the road to a future energy system that remains affordable for consumers of heat and electricity, in homes and businesses.

However, European Parliament proposed revisions to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII) are detrimental to that ambition. Plans to significantly restrict “primary woody biomass”, wwould impact the EU’s energy security and climate targets, at a time when affordable transition is needed most.

It is important that EU policy makers consider these important impacts during the ongoing trilogue discussions on this legislation and that they are brought to the attention of your national government (including Permanent Representation in Brussels), MEPs (in particular those sitting on the ENVI and ITRE committees) and the European Commission (DG Energy).

Find out more about proposed changes to the Renewable Energy Directive: 

  • Healthy managed forests need markets. The harvesting of these forests is primarily driven by long-lived solid wood product sectors and restricting the use of primary woody biomass will not stop harvesting. Eliminating or reducing markets for low-grade, by-products of the timber industry can lead to forest degradation and loss.

Biomass and BECCS are critical to Europe’s net zero efforts but investment is needed now to ensure the technology will be in place to deliver negative emissions at scale in the 2030s.

The EU has identified the role that increased use of biomass will play in reducing demand for Russian gas

Over the course of 2021, the EU imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia – accounting for 40% of the block’s gas consumption.

The short-term solution from countries both in and outside the EU looking to wean themselves off Russian gas has been to increase expensive imports from other sources, and expand the use of other fossil fuels, such as coal. But long-term energy security must also allow the world to meet its climate targets. Many experts consider biomass, when sourced sustainably, to be integral to meeting these combined goals.

A report by the European Climate Foundation considered whether and how the EU could deal with an end of Russian gas supplies from winter of 2022 to 2025, without jeopardising medium-term energy and climate targets. It put forward 15 structural levers for the EU to reduce gas demand, including to “increase biomass use in power and heat generation”.

The report estimated that increased biomass use could offset up to 2 billion cubic metres of natural gas, amounting to a positive cumulative climate impact of 4 million tons of saved CO2 emissions.

The Foundation’s work with the International Energy Agency (IEA) further reiterated the importance of biomass, stating that dispatchable low-emission generation from bioenergy can and should be maximised. The joint report claimed that the EU’s bioenergy plants could generate up to 50 terawatt hours (TWh) more electricity (almost as much as the 62.1 TWh consumed by all of Great Britain in Q3 2022) with the introduction of appropriate incentives and sustainable supplies of bioenergy.

The European Commission’s Impact Assessment also found that to meet climate targets, the use of bioenergy will have to increase by an average of 69% by 2050, compared to 2030 projections. This included the need for biomass as a source of grid balancing power, as well as biofuels in hard-to-decarbonise industries, like the maritime and aviation sectors.

These proposed routes to an energy secure future that can also meet climate goals would all be hindered by excessive restrictions on woody biomass. Bioenergy deployment is needed to support scenarios in which reliable energy supply and decarbonisation is tenable and affordable. But the regulatory and legislative environment must be in place to deliver it.

Combating high prices  

The European Parliament proposed REDIII restrictions on “primary woody biomass” haven’t been subject to an impact assessment. As such, the full effects such policies could have on energy supply, decarbonisation efforts, forest health, and consumers, aren’t being properly considered. In particular, the cost of the energy transition to economies and energy users is left open to question.

One of the other issues caused by the uncertainty in Russian gas supply is the rocketing cost of energy. Around the world, energy prices reached record highs through the winter period, impacting the cost of products and services across economies. Restricting the ability for countries to use woody biomass will only further drive-up prices for both business and domestic, electricity and heating consumers.

Biomass has the ability to be co-fired alongside coal, or existing coal power stations can be converted to run on biomass alone. This can make it a more cost-effective means of rapidly deploying an alternative to gas and coal.

Woody biomass is also one of the most affordable technologies to deliver renewable heating. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants offer effective sources of district heating. Other decarbonisation efforts like installing heat pumps or hydrogen boilers at scale will take years in many countries.

Today, woody biomass is the EU’s largest renewable energy source, of which 51% comes from primary woody biomass, accounting for 20% of all renewable energy. To pass legislation that hampers its use will leave countries dependent on expensive, carbon-intensive fossil fuel imports, that slows progress towards reaching climate goals and makes energy unaffordable for more consumers.