Drax to save 20 millionth tonne of carbon through use of sustainable biomass

Drax, the UK’s largest power station – providing 7% to 8% of the UK’s power needs – will in July save its 20 millionth tonne of carbon since it started burning sustainable biomass in place of coal some 10 years ago. It expects to take only a further two and a half years to reach the 50 million tonne mark.

This latest recorded carbon saving reinforces its position as Europe’s largest decarbonisation project and the UK’s largest generator of renewable electricity from a single site¹.

Drax has already converted two generating units and with a third in the pipeline Drax will reduce its annual carbon emissions by around 12 million tonnes a year. This is equivalent to taking 3.3 million cars off the UK’s roads or making the UK’s entire industrial and manufacturing sector zero carbon² – with sustainable biomass providing a carbon saving of approximately 86 per cent compared to coal-fired generation.

Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive of Drax Group plc said:

“This latest milestone data underscores the low carbon credentials of sustainable biomass. In a relatively short period of time Drax has delivered major carbon savings, while continuing to provide reliable, secure and good value renewable power.

“This data also gives an indication of the scale of the contribution sustainable biomass will make to meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets. Drax is already Europe’s largest decarbonisation project, and we believe that there is potential for significant additional carbon savings through the conversion of further units.”



  1. In 2014 the UK generated a total of 64.4TWh of renewable electricity (Department of Energy and Climate Change, Energy Trends: Quarterly and Monthly Data – Renewables: Source). Drax generated 7.9TWh of electricity from its two units converted to burn sustainable biomass, accounting for 12.3 per cent of the UK’s total renewable electricity generation.
  2. In 2014, the UK’s industrial processes and manufacturing sector is estimated to have emitted 12 million tonnes of CO2 (Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2014 UK greenhouse emissions, Provisional figures: Source)


Drax is the UK’s largest power station typically meeting 7-8% of the UK’s power needs. It is Europe’s largest decarbonisation project and the UK’s largest renewable electricity generator.

Biomass is organic material obtained from living or recently living plant matter that can be burnt to produce energy. The materials that Drax uses include low grade wood, such as forest thinnings, tree tops and branches as well as sawmill residues, and to a lesser extent residual agricultural products, such as straw, sunflower seed husks and peanut husks, and purpose grown energy crops.

Drax sources the majority of its biomass from the South Eastern US, but also from Canada and to a lesser extent other EU member states, where forest areas are growing, not declining, owing to experienced and professional sustainable forest management. The main drivers of commercial forestry practices are industries such as the furniture and construction sectors which use the main part of the tree for lumber. Drax then uses the material leftover, such as the thinnings, tree tops, limbs and other low grade wood.

Further information on the types of biomass fibre Drax uses and which countries it comes from can be found in Drax’s Biomass Supply Report 2014, available here.


 Andrew Brown

Director of Communications

+44 (0) 1757 612 165

[email protected]

Luther Pendragon

+44 (0) 20 7618 9137

[email protected]