As a major electricity producer and retailer, and producer of sustainable biomass fuels, we take our responsibilities to society and the environment seriously.
Our Group-wide Environment Policy outlines our commitment to manage, monitor and reduce the environmental impacts caused by our business through continual improvement of our operations; and to minimise adverse impacts of our operations on biodiversity. The Group policy, signed by the Chair of our Board and our CEO, sets out what we aim to achieve, and our businesses reflect how they will enact this in their implementation statements.
Each month, we report internally on environmental incidents and near misses, and the Board receives monthly reports as part of the CEO report. In 2021 we introduced leading and lagging indicators for environmental management into our HSE balanced scorecard. Leading indicators give us proactive measures to track prevention efforts prior to an incident, and lagging indicators enable us to track incidents once they have occurred.
We respond to, and track actions taken from, any environmental complaints made in relation to our operations, and we investigate environmental events to ensure that root causes are established, and lessons are learned and shared across the business.
Environmental Management Systems
In the UK, our Generation assets are certified through their respective management systems to ISO 14001:2015 and are subject to regular external audits. In the US, our Pellet Production sites operate under an environmental management system that is aligned, but not certified, to the principles of ISO 14001:2015.
Wherever we operate, we seek to establish an open and direct partnership with the local environment agencies.
Environmental performance data is available in our ESG Data Supplement.
Emissions to air
During 2021, at Drax Power Station, we focused on compliance readiness for the new requirements of Annex V of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive with the new Best Available Techniques Reference Document (BREF) levels, which came into force on 16 August 2021. This new BREF level will become the reference point for setting permit conditions and includes tighter limits for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), mercury and particulate matter (PM). Since August 2021, our operations have operated within the BREF limits.
In 2021, emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulates from power generation trended downward, compared with 2020. This can be partially attributed to decreased coal generation at Drax Power Station.
Drax Power Station uses water for operational and cooling processes where losses occur through steam and ancillary processes, with the remainder discharged to the environment. In line with our permit requirements, procedures are in place to manage water system efficiency and usage and to ensure that all discharge consent limits are met.
Compared to 2020, our total water abstracted for generation decreased which is largely due to the sale of our four Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power stations in January 2021.
In 2021, 3,005,380,954 m3 of water reported as abstracted was used for hydro generation at the Galloway and Lanark Hydro Scheme. This volume is not consumed and is returned to the natural environment.
At Cruachan Pumped Storage Power Station, when there is excess power on the grid and demand for electricity is low, the excess power is used to pump water from Loch Awe into the upper reservoir. Water is then released back into Loch Awe when electricity generation is required. We closely monitor the arrangements for the cycling of this water and report as required to SEPA.