‘Renewable energy apprentices’ kickstart careers at Drax

Renewable energy company Drax is welcoming seven apprentice engineers as part of its efforts to create career development opportunities in the North and ensure it has the best in-house talent to support its ambitious decarbonisation plans.

Pic caption: L-R: Poppy Johnson-Roberts, Chloe Wrightham, Lewis White, Drax Group Operations Director Mike Maudsley, Plant Director Bruce Heppenstall, Daniel Penistone, Sam Easthill, Dylan Hall Parkes and Patrick Harpham

Renewable energy company Drax is welcoming seven apprentice engineers as part of its efforts to create career development opportunities in the North and ensure it has the best in-house talent to support its ambitious decarbonisation plans.

The apprentice engineers have won places on the technical apprenticeship scheme at Drax Power Station near Selby in North Yorkshire – the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator, which produces enough renewable electricity for four million homes.

The four-year programme gives new recruits the opportunity to gain expertise working alongside the world-class engineers at Britain’s biggest power station which has become one of Europe’s largest decarbonisation projects following its conversion from coal to using sustainable wood pellets.

Mike Maudsley, Drax Group’s UK Portfolio Generation Director said:

“I started my career as an apprentice and meeting our new renewable energy apprentices is one of the highlights of my job. Providing these young people with the tools needed to become the skilled workforce of the future is not only essential to the success of our business, it’s also an incredibly rewarding part of what we do.

“Giving our apprentices the opportunity to work on the cutting-edge, environmental technologies of the future will ensure we’re nurturing our in-house talent and creating opportunities for people here in the North to lead the green energy revolution needed to get the UK to net zero, supporting a post-covid economic recovery.”

Patrick Harpham, aged 19 from Selby, who has joined Drax as a mechanical apprentice, said:

“I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to be part of the new intake of apprentices at Drax and proud to be starting my career with a company that is so committed to tackling global climate change. I’m also very proud to be following in the footsteps of my great grandfather and grandad, both of whom spent much of their careers at the power station. This family history is what has always inspired me to want to become an engineer.”

Mechanical apprentice Poppy Johnson-Roberts, aged 18 from Cleethorpes, said:

“I chose to apply for an apprenticeship with Drax because it is an innovative company which is always developing and looking to the future. I also feel like it’s a great opportunity for me and will open up so many potential career pathways as Drax is committed to helping young people develop their skills.”

The apprentices beginning their careers at Drax Power Station this year are:

  • Chloe Wrightham,18, from Grimsby
  • Daniel Penistone, 17, from Selby
  • Dylan Hall Parkes,18, from Doncaster
  • Lewis White, 23, from Grimsby
  • Patrick Harpham, 19, from Selby
  • Poppy Johnson-Roberts, 18, from Cleethorpes
  • Sam Easthill, 21, from Cliffe, near Selby.

L-R: Daniel Penistone, Chloe Wrightham, Poppy Johnson-Roberts, Drax Group Operations Director Mike Maudsley, Plant Director Bruce Heppenstall, Sam Easthill, Lewis White, Dylan Hall Parkes and Patrick Harpham

They will be trained within the maintenance department of the power station, with three of them in mechanical roles and four working alongside the electrical and instrumentation team.

Drax plans to become carbon negative by 2030 by using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) which it aims to start developing at the power station as soon as 2024 with the creation of thousands of jobs.

The first BECCS unit would be operational in 2027 with a second in 2030, permanently removing a total of eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, making a significant contribution to the UK’s efforts to address the climate crisis, whilst generating the renewable electricity the country needs.


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Editor’s Notes

The apprentices will start work on-site at Drax once they have completed formal training at the Humberside Engineering Training Association.

Drax offers apprenticeships in business support areas as well as engineering disciplines and is in the process of recruiting two cyber security and two facilities apprentices who will start work in October. All opportunities are advertised on the Drax website.

Drax has been running an apprenticeship scheme at its North Yorkshire power station for almost two decades and also runs several internships and graduate schemes as part of its dedication to improving skills and increasing opportunities for young people across the region.

The energy company is also committed to helping its existing employees to boost their skills to ensure they are ready to work on new green technologies liked BECCS. Around 80 employees across the group are studying for apprenticeship qualifications.

Throughout the Covid pandemic Drax has continued to invest in young people and supported its communities through several initiatives, including:

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.

Its 3,400 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.

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.

Pellet production and supply:
Drax owns and has interests in 17 pellet mills in the US South and Western Canada which have the capacity to manufacture 4.9 million tonnes of compressed wood pellets (biomass) a year. 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.


Through its two B2B energy supply brands, Haven Power and Opus Energy, Drax supplies energy to 250,000 businesses across Britain.

For more information visit www.drax.com