Drax expands its operations into Asia to support region’s renewable energy transition

Renewable energy company Drax Group is expanding its operations into Japan as part of its ambitions to increase sustainable biomass sales to support energy security and decarbonisation in Asia.

To celebrate the launch of Drax Asia and the opening of a new Drax office in Japan, more than 160 guests including government officials, major trading houses, energy businesses and shipping companies, attended a reception at the British Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo.

At the reception, British Ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom said:

“The global issues facing us today highlight the importance of clean and secure energy supply chains. We are happy to support Drax in their expansion into Japan.”

British Ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom at the reception to launch Drax Asia

Drax Group, the world’s leading producer and user of sustainable biomass, aims to increase its wood pellet production capacity to 8 million tonnes a year by 2030 from 5 million tonnes a year currently, supporting global efforts to displace fossil fuels and decarbonise energy systems.

As a supplier of sustainable biomass pellets to customers in Asia and Europe, and with more than a decade of experience in converting the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station to use sustainable biomass, Drax is uniquely placed to support Japan as it further decarbonises its economy and energy system.

The British-headquartered company is also pioneering bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), an essential carbon removals technology which provides renewable energy while also permanently removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Drax Group’s Managing Director for Asia, Yasuhisa Okamoto, who is based in Tokyo and will oversee the company’s ambitious plans for growth in Japan and the region said:

Drax Group Managing Director for Asia, Yasuhisa Okamoto

“Drax’s unrivalled expertise across the entire biomass value chain – from sustainable fibre sourcing, pellet manufacturing, supply chain management, biomass power generation and BECCS – can support Japan’s climate targets, accelerating the move away from coal and enabling investment in clean energy technologies.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Japanese companies, supporting them as they decarbonise their businesses, using sustainable biomass.”

Drax’s conversion of its UK power station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal is Europe’s largest decarbonisation project, reducing fossil fuel emissions from Drax’s power generation by over 95% since 2012.

The day after the reception in Tokyo, a team of Drax executives visited a standalone biomass power plant that Drax supplies with biomass.

Drax executives, British Ambassador and embassy official at the launch of Drax Asia. (Top L-R: Paul Sheffield – Drax Chief Commercial Officer, Ross McKenzie – Drax Director of International Affairs, Joseph Sheldon – Senior Trade Advisor British Embassy, Yasuhisa Okamoto – Drax Managing Director Asia. Bottom L-R: British Ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom, Clare Harbord – Drax Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Esa Heiskanen – Drax EVP Capital Projects.)


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Selina Williams
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Ali Lewis
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Editor’s Notes

  • Before joining Drax, Mr. Okamoto worked at a major Japanese trading house where he played an active role in the growth of its wood pellet business in Japan. Mr Okamoto is well known across the biomass industry internationally and will play a crucial role in achieving Drax’s target to double biomass sales by 2030.
  • Drax’s use of sustainable biomass is paving the way for its plans to deploy BECCS globally.
  • BECCS is the only negative emissions technology that can permanently remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while also continuing to generate the reliable, renewable electricity needed in a decarbonising economy.
  • By the end of this decade, Drax could be permanently removing 12 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year, while also delivering the renewable power required to transition off fossil fuels.
  • Drax has 17 sustainable biomass pellet plants and developments in the US and Canada with capacity of 5 million tonnes and access to four ports in North America.
  • Drax plans to increase its pellet production capacity to 8 million tonnes by 2030 to help meet its own requirements, as well as its customers’ needs in Asia and Europe, amid an expected increase in global demand for the low-carbon fuel.
  • Drax aims to increase pellet sales to 4 million tonnes by 2030.
  • Drax Power Station supplies 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity, keeping the lights on for millions of UK homes and businesses.
  • The UN’s IPCC, the world’s leading science-based climate authority says that sustainable biomass and negative emissions from BECCS are crucial to meet net zero.
  • Drax’s world leading sustainability policyguarantees the biomass used at Drax Power Station meets the highest sustainability standards and is only sourced from sustainably managed forests that are stable or growing.

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, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology.

Drax’s around 3,000 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties. For more information visit www.drax.com

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. 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 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. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:

The Group has 17 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.

Drax’s pellet plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.


Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com