Building a sustainable business - Drax

Building a sustainable business

The boundaries between users, suppliers and generators are blurring, writes CEO Will Gardiner.

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The UK energy sector is changing rapidly. The boundaries between users, suppliers and generators are blurring as energy users are choosing to generate their own energy and are managing their energy use more proactively while, conversely, generators are increasingly seeing users as potential sources of generation and providers of demand management.

“The UK is undergoing an unprecedented energy revolution with electricity at its heart – a transition to a low-carbon society requiring new energy solutions for power generation, heating, transport and the wider economy”

In that context, our Group’s purpose is to help change the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future. This means that sustainability, in its broadest sense, must be at the very core of what we do. Successful delivery of our purpose depends on all our people, across all our businesses, doing the right thing, every day. With the right products and services, we can go even further and help our customers make the right, sustainable energy choices.

As our businesses transform and we embrace a larger customer base, different generation technologies and operate internationally, the range of sustainability issues we face is widening and becoming more complex. At the same time, the range of stakeholders looking to Drax for responsible leadership on sustainability is increasing. The need for transparency is greater than ever, so our website’s sustainability section provides a comprehensive insight into the Group’s environmental, social and governance management and performance during 2017.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Carbon reduction: I am pleased that, in 2017, the proportion of our energy generation from renewable sources remained high. 65% of our generation during the year came from sustainable biomass and accounted for 15% of the country’s overall renewable generation. We maintained our rigorous and robust approach to ensure that we only ever use biomass that is sustainably produced and legally sourced.
  • People: Another key achievement was the roll out of our people strategy to 2020 – One Drax – which focuses on talent to deliver on our strategic and operational objectives.
  • Safety: The health and safety of all our employees and contractors is of paramount importance to Drax. While the Group’s safety incident rate remained on target in 2017, the fire at our biomass rail unloading facilities in December did cause an outage, with disruption lasting into 2018. It highlighted once again that the risks of generating using biomass must be mitigated through robust safety procedures and a risk-based plant investment and maintenance programme. Safety therefore remains at the centre of our operational philosophy and we are determined to do even better.
  • Customers: Our business to business (B2B) Energy Supply business received recognition for their dedication to customer service. Opus Energy won “Utilities Provider of the Year” at the British Small Business Awards 2017.

We initiated a process which would allow us to participate in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). We are committed to the initiative and its ten principles, which align with our culture of doing the right thing.

Our website’s sustainability section also sets out our commitment to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through our operations, the services we deliver to our customers and in partnership with others.

Global ambitions and goals are important, but so too are our ambitions for our local and regional communities. As such, we have played a key role in the UK Northern Powerhouse Partnership, initiatives such as POWERful Women and a comprehensive programme of stakeholder engagement.

“Sustainability, in its broadest sense, must be at the very core of what we do”

Finally, I do not believe any organisation, however well intentioned, can get its commitment to sustainability perfect on its own and I am very keen for Drax to learn from people reading our website’s sustainability section. It sets out what we see as our achievements and aspects in which we believe we need to do better. I would like to invite any stakeholder with an interest to comment on what we’re doing and help us improve where we can. Feedback can be submitted at Contact us or via our Twitter account or Facebook page.

Read the Chief Executive’s Review in the Drax Group plc annual report and accounts