- Diane Nicholls, a Canadian forester with over 25 years’ experience in forestry and sustainability will lead Drax’s North American biomass sustainability strategy.
- The former Chief Forester for British Columbia is joining the renewable energy company and will work with its teams to ensure the biomass it supplies meets the highest sustainability standards and expectations – balancing the need for forestry stewardship, with positive community and climate outcomes.
- Diane’s extensive expertise will be invaluable in the role of VP for Sustainability in North America, as Drax increases sustainable biomass supply and advances the carbon removal technology bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to support the global transition to net zero
Prior to the role at Drax, Diane was Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Forester for the province of British Columbia, where she was responsible for setting the Allowable Annual Cut across more than 50 million hectares of public forest in BC.
She has also led the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Strategy, helped deliver a record tree planting program, introduced collaboration with First Nations in the timber supply review process and incorporated carbon modelling and habitat supply.
Diane will report into and work closely with Drax Group’s Director of Sustainability, Dr Alan Knight to implement and advance the company’s global sustainability plan, ensuring Drax’s biomass delivers positive outcomes for the climate, nature and people while driving the highest sustainability standards across the industry.
Drax’s Group Director of Sustainability Dr Alan Knight said:
“I’m excited to welcome Diane to the Drax team – Diane has over 25 years’ experience in forestry and sustainability in Canada and understands the complex and diverse needs of forestry stewardship, including protection of specific areas, preventing wildfires and disease and supporting local communities.
“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, and Diane’s knowledge and expertise will be invaluable – helping to drive our work in North America and ensuring our biomass delivers positive outcomes for people, nature and the climate. Biomass has a growing role to play globally in displacing fossil fuels and with BECCS to remove carbon emissions and enable the global transition to a low-carbon future.”
Diane will work with teams across the company to develop Drax’s biomass feedstocks in North America, ensuring they meet the highest sustainability requirements, transparency and expectations of stakeholders, including the government, First Nations and NGOs.
Diane Nicholls said:
“Forests have a vital role to play in meeting global climate targets and it’s crucial that forest management is science-based as well as focused on the diverse needs of the communities living in and around them.
“Sound forest management is also our best tool for enhancing wildlife habitat, ensuring clean water, contributing to carbon sequestration and supporting the local communities with jobs and economic opportunities. I look forward to advancing my work around forestry stewardship with Drax.”
Diane is a Registered Professional Forester. Her research has included rare and endangered species, ecosystem-based management and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Drax has been at the heart of the UK’s energy transition using sustainable biomass to help decarbonise the power system faster than any other country.
The renewable energy company operates 15 pellet plants in Western Canada and the US South, producing and supplying sustainable biomass internationally, with plans for further growth in production over the coming years.
Drax also has plans to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This vital negative emissions technology permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere whilst also generating renewable power – no other technology can do both.
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- Drax has 17 sustainable biomass pellet plants and developments in the US and Canada with capacity of 5Mt 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 Europe and Asia, amid an expected increase in global demand for the low-carbon fuel.
- Drax’s conversion of its UK power station to sustainable biomass from coal is Europe’s largest decarbonisation project, reducing emissions from Drax’s power generation by over 95% since 2012.
- 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 policy guarantees 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.
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
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 4Mt 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 capacity of 4.6Mt, which will increase to c.5Mt once developments are complete.
Drax is targeting 8Mt of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3Mt 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 mills supply around 30% of the biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.
Drax is the largest supplier of renewable electricity to UK businesses, supplying 100% renewable electricity as standard to more than 370,000 sites through Drax and Opus Energy.
It offers 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