Delivering social, economic and environmental benefits for the Northern Powerhouse region

THE North is well placed to be the driving force behind new technologies that will power the UK for years to come – and power our economy too.

That’s according to Drax’s Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Clare Harbord, who will give the keynote speech at the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce AGM, today (Wednesday September 26) in Leeds.

“As a responsible, sustainable business Drax takes its role in the Northern Powerhouse very seriously. We’re proud of our Yorkshire roots and we’re a growing British company delivering social, economic and environmental benefits across the country.”

Drax contributes more than £500m a year to the Northern economy, employing around 900 people at the power station near Selby, and supporting a further 6,000 jobs in the wider supply chain across the region.

Having been the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station, Drax has transformed itself to become the country’s biggest renewable power generator, and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It has converted two thirds of the power station to use biomass from coal. In the process it has protected jobs and is securing the long term future of the power station.

Clare Harbord, Director of Corporate AffairsClare Harbord explained that there are some major opportunities for the North to be at the heart of innovative new technologies within the energy industry, building on the region’s industrial past and now more recently as a world leader in lower carbon technologies like offshore wind, nuclear and biomass.

“Innovation is a fundamental requirement for the clean growth needed if we are to meet our climate targets – that’s why we’re investing £400,000 in a pioneering bioenergy carbon capture and storage pilot with Leeds University spin out C-Capture, which could enable us to make the power we produce carbon negative.

“If we capitalise on the innovation and expertise we have here, then in the process we can deliver environmental, social and economic benefits for our communities too,” she explained.

“Having a highly skilled, diverse and inclusive workforce is vital to all of this. In the North we already have world-class engineers but we need to do more to invest in the next generation so they have the right education and skills, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

“Businesses have a key role to play and I’m proud to say Drax is working hard to inspire the next generation of engineers through school visits to the power station as well as apprenticeships – we’ve increased our intake of engineering apprentices at the power station by fifty percent this year.

“We’re also supporting academic research within our Northern Powerhouse universities to keep the region at the forefront of developments and maintain our position as world leaders.

“By working together with education providers, academics, businesses, local and regional government and our communities, we can develop opportunities which allow us to reach the great potential we have here in the North.”


Media contacts:

 Ali Lewis
Drax Group Interim Head of Media & PR
E: [email protected]
T: 07712670888

Jessica Gorton
Drax Group Press Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07712677177

Editor’s Notes

  • Drax announced it is working with C-Capture, a Leeds University spin-out, on the first bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project of its kind in Europe, earlier this year. The pilot is due to get underway this autumn and is expected to capture a tonne of carbon dioxide each day. Drax is in discussions with the British Beer and Pub Association to see if the CO2 it captures during the trial could be used by the drinks industry.
  • The company converted its fourth generating unit from coal to biomass this summer, enabling it to produce more renewable power at the times the grid needs it the most.
  • Drax is pushing ahead with plans to repower its remaining coal units to gas and develop large-scale battery storage. It’s application for a Development Consent Order has been accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate with a decision expected from the Secretary of State for BEIS next year.
  • The government has said it wants there to be no more coal used to generate power in the UK from October 2025. If Drax’s gas plans are approved, it could stop using coal well ahead of the government’s deadline.
  • Drax welcomed 13,000 visitors to the power station near Selby, North Yorkshire, in 2017
  • Its new apprentices began work at the power station last month.
  • Drax is sponsoring PhDs at Sheffield University, researching a range of areas including the impact of human behaviour on vehicle to grid technologies for electric vehicles.

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 six 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.

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