Drax receives 100th biomass cargo from dedicated US export facility

Drax has received the 100th cargo of sustainable biomass from its dedicated US export facility at the port of Baton Rouge in Louisiana, marking an important milestone in five years of its operation supplying the renewable fuel to the UK’s largest power station.

Vessel loading sustainable biomass at Drax’s Baton Rouge export facility in the US
  • Landmark shipment of biomass delivered as Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire continues to generate the electricity the UK needs during the Covid-19 crisis
  • Vessel arrives in the UK on the 5th anniversary of the start of operations at a dedicated biomass export facility in the US South

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the final deepwater port on the Mississippi River and the closest to Drax’s three pellet plants in the US South. In 2015, Drax completed work on its export facility at the port to process and ship biomass to its power station in the UK.

Ultrabulk’s MV Ultra Jaguar vessel carried 62,846 tonnes of sustainable biomass from Baton Rouge to the UK for Drax. The cargo is enough fuel to generate electricity for around 1.3 million homes.

The landmark shipment, which arrived at ABP’s Port of Immingham on March 25, will help Drax to continue to produce the electricity the UK needs during the Covid-19 crisis.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO said:

“We’re very proud of what Drax has achieved since we started using sustainable biomass instead of coal at the power station – by developing a global supply chain for sustainable biomass, our operations support thousands of jobs and have delivered economic growth across the North of England and in the US South.

“Maintaining our supply chain so we can continue to generate the renewable electricity the country needs is all the more important right now as we continue to play a critical role in producing power to help the fight against Covid-19. Our teams are working around the clock to keep generating the power the country needs.”

Baton Rouge Transit has shipped over 5 million tonnes of sustainable biomass to ports on the UK’s east and west coast in the five years since the first vessel was dispatched on April 6th 2015.

Once in the UK, the wood pellets are loaded on to bespoke biomass freight trains bound for Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, where they are used to generate the renewable electricity that millions of UK homes and businesses rely on.

Drax Biomass Senior Vice President Matt White said:

“In the past five years, the team here at Drax’s Baton Rouge facility has gone from loading its first vessel with 20,000 tonnes of sustainable wood pellets, to the 100th vessel, which loaded almost 63,000 tonnes. The team did this while achieving an industry-leading safety record, underscoring its focus and commitment to the wellbeing of our employees.

“We will continue to work around the clock to maintain consistent and reliable deliveries of sustainable biomass to Drax Power Station – a critical national asset which supplies 12% of the UK’s renewable power. This is especially important during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. We have plans and processes in place to ensure our key workers can continue to carry out their vitally important roles safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Drax is working closely with its suppliers in North America and Europe, as well as partners in the rail freight sector and at port facilities in the US and UK to maintain a resilient supply chain amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK government has identified Drax as critical national infrastructure. This includes the infrastructure and logistics related to the transportation of biomass to the power station, such as ports and rail. The US federal government and most state and local authorities have made similar designations relating to biomass.

Around two thirds of the 7.5 million tonnes of sustainable biomass Drax uses each year comes from the US, where Drax owns and operates three pellet mills producing compressed wood pellets sourced from sustainably managed working forests in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The pellets are sent by rail and truck from the plants in Louisiana and Mississippi to Drax’s Baton Rouge facility before being loaded onto ships for their transatlantic journey.

Vessel loading sustainable biomass at Drax’s Baton Rouge export facility in the US

Drax’s operations support around 5,700 jobs throughout its supply chains across the North of England and help to generate £600m per year for the region’s economy.

Earlier in March, Drax received and unloaded the largest ever shipment of sustainable biomass from Baton Rouge as part of its regular supply chain deliveries.

In addition to its own wood pellet production, Drax also has agreements with a number of other suppliers in the US and elsewhere around the world including in Canada, the Baltics and Portugal as well as multiple trading relationships. This gives the energy company greater flexibility in sourcing sustainable biomass.


Media contacts

Ali Lewis
Drax Group Head of Media & PR
E: [email protected]
T: 07712 670 888

Selina Williams
Drax Group Media Manager
E: [email protected]
T: 07912 230 393

Annmarie Sartor
Communications Officer – United States
E: [email protected]
T: +1 318-801-0046

Editor’s Notes

  • Baton Rouge Transit is operated by Host Terminals and has the capacity to process 2.4 million tonnes of sustainable biomass a year.
  • The 100th cargo completed loading at the port of Baton Rouge in Louisiana on March 6 and arrived at Associated British Ports Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal on the UK’s east coast on March 25.
  • Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal on the UK’s east coast is part of Drax’s network of port and rail infrastructure that runs from coast to coast and includes capacity at the Port of Tyne, Hull and Liverpool.
  • Having import capacity at both east and west coast ports adds extra security and resilience to Drax’s supply chain and operations.
  • Sustainable biomass is an important part of the UK’s long-term energy mix. Using sustainable biomass instead of coal at Drax Power Station has already delivered carbon savings of more than 80% and made Drax Europe’s largest decarbonisation project.
  • Caption for main photo: Biomass wood pellet vessel at Port of Greater Baton Rouge in Louisiana [Click to view/download]

About Drax

Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030.

Its 2,900-strong employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted two thirds of Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.  It also owns and operates four gas power stations in England.


Drax owns two B2B energy supply businesses:

  • Haven Power, based in Ipswich, supplies electricity and energy services to large Industrial and Commercial sector businesses.
  • Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, provides electricity, energy services and gas to small and medium sized (SME) businesses.

Pellet production:

Drax owns and operates three pellet mills in the US South which manufacture compressed wood pellets (biomass) produced from sustainably managed working forests. These pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.

For more information visit www.drax.com/northamerica