Drax signs £40 million contract with Siemens for turbine upgrades

The upgrades will improve the efficiency of its biomass generating units making its renewable power production more cost effective

Drax Power, which operates the biggest power station in the UK, has signed a new £40 million contract with Siemens for the upgrade of turbines on three of its biomass units over the next three years.

The upgrades will deliver efficiencies, as well as maintenance savings, which will cut the cost of biomass electricity production at the plant in North Yorkshire.

The work, which starts in 2019, will take three years to complete, with one biomass unit being upgraded each year as part of its planned major overhaul. The efficiencies will be gained by fitting new, high tech pipework and valves, with new high efficiency blading and long life seals within the turbines on biomass units 1, 2 and 3.

Since transforming half of the power station to run on compressed wood pellets instead of coal it has become Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project – and the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator.

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said:

“We firmly believe that biomass has a long-term role to play in the UK’s energy infrastructure. We’re looking at a number of ways to bring down the costs of our biomass generation – and these turbine upgrades are an important part of that work.

“Reducing the costs of our biomass operations will help to preserve the life of the plant and protect jobs, whilst we continue to produce the flexible, renewable power millions of homes and businesses rely on.”

Darren Davidson, Managing Director, Power Generation Services, Power and Gas, Siemens added:

“Siemens and Drax have a long-standing and proud partnership so it’s fantastic that we will now help them further develop their biomass solution. Once delivered this project will improve plant efficiency and flexibility and provide a further source of low carbon power to UK homes, businesses and services.”

Drax has upgraded three of its coal units to run on biomass with a fourth unit currently being converted – due to return to service later in the summer. It also plans to repower its remaining two coal units to use gas and develop up to 200MW of battery storage.

The cost of the upgrades are within Drax’s existing plans with payment upon completion of the works.


Pic caption: Image of a generator core from inside the Siemens factory ‘white room’ that has been installed inside the turbine hall at Drax Power Station.

Media contact

Ali Lewis
Drax Group Head of News
E: [email protected]
T: 07712 670888

Jessica Gorton
Drax Group Press Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 020 3943 4305 

Editor’s Notes

  • Drax produces 11.5% of the UK’s renewable electricity – enough for four million households.
  • Its Repower project was recently accepted for examination by the Planning inspectorate with a decision expected from the Secretary of State for BEIS next year in the autumn.
  • Drax recently announced it is to pilot first Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) project of its kind in Europe – which has the potential to enable the plant to become carbon negative.
  • Drax Group contributed almost £1.7 billion towards UK GDP in 2016 and supported over 18,500 jobs across the country.
  • Drax Power Station makes a significant socio-economic impact contributing more than £0.5 billion to the economy and supporting more than 6,000 jobs across the Northern Powerhouse region.
  • Drax’s biomass generating units deliver carbon savings of 80% compared to when they used coal.

About Drax

Drax Group plc plays a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used. Its 2,300-strong staff operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.

The Group includes:

Drax Power Ltd, which operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies 6 percent of the country’s electricity needs. The energy firm converted from burning coal to become a predominantly biomass-fuelled electricity generator. Drax is the biggest single site renewable generator in the UK and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Haven Power, based in Ipswich, supplies electricity to large Industrial and Commercial sector businesses.

Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, provides electricity and gas to small and medium sized (SME) businesses.

Drax Biomass, is based in the US and manufactures compressed wood pellets produced from sustainably managed working forests, supplying fuel 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