Drax to boost skills and training with five-year Selby College partnership

Energy company Drax has reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to skills and training, supporting education across the North with a £180,000 partnership with Selby College.

The five-year partnership will enable the college to deliver community education programmes, as well as support for retraining, to ensure students are developing the skills needed in innovative clean technologies which will help to drive a zero carbon economy.

Upgrading Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal has transformed the business to become the largest decarbonisation project in Europe, protecting jobs and preserving the life of the power station.

Located just outside Selby in North Yorkshire, Drax is now the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator and pioneer of cutting edge negative emissions technology, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) which could enable the company to go even further and become carbon negative as soon as 2030.

Bruce Heppenstall, Drax Power Station Plant Director, said:

“Through this partnership with Selby College we are looking beyond the Covid crisis towards a green economic recovery, powered by talented people and exciting, innovative technologies, like BECCS which Drax is pioneering.

“This partnership with Selby College will help people in our communities to learn the skills needed to pursue jobs in the green economy, and enable companies like Drax to continue to grow, and build a strong regional economy with thriving communities.”

Selby College been educating students in the heart of North Yorkshire for more than 35 years, providing education and training opportunities for more than 5,500 students, aged 16 right up to 70+.

Phil Sayles, Principal and Chief Executive of Selby College, said:

“We are delighted to be launching this partnership with Drax. Selby College is committed to supporting the community and has a strong track record of working with industries to understand their needs and develop tailored training packages to support workforce development. Creating education programmes that support upskilling and retraining are crucial for the UK as we look to the future, creating a green workforce that employers like Drax need.”

The package of support from Drax will see the college:

  • Hold a series of events starting with a virtual conference on Green Energy in the spring, with high-profile key-note speakers, to help inspire students from local secondary schools to pursue careers in the sector
  • Invest in ICT equipment to help even more students to study both in college and at home, making sure that no young person or adult learner is left behind if they need to self-isolate due to coronavirus.
  • Purchase new science and engineering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and support investment in state-of-the-art equipment over the next five years to support learning.

Nigel Adams MP, Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty, said:

“This is a perfect partnership, Drax at the forefront of developing and introducing new technologies for zero carbon energy generation and Selby College at the forefront of providing students with the knowledge and skills on which to build a successful career.

“I know both organisations very well and supported Drax in the conversion to green energy generation and must thank Selby College for their long-standing commitment to local employment including apprenticeship training and hosting my Jobs Fairs. This partnership will open up new opportunities for local people and enable them to develop the skills needed for our future. They will both continue to have my full support.”

Drax is working with a number of businesses on the Zero Carbon Humber initiative which aims to deploy carbon capture and hydrogen technology to decarbonise the UK’s largest industrial cluster by 2040.

Stephen Parnaby OBE, Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“The Humber region is the most carbon intensive in the UK – using cutting edge technologies to  decarbonise businesses here will make a significant contribution to the UK’s climate targets, whilst protecting 55,000 jobs.

“A skilled workforce is essential – the partnership between Drax and Selby College will play an important role in helping to create a cleaner environment for future generations whilst delivering new jobs and export opportunities for British businesses.”


Notes to editors:

  • Drax has a history of supporting education and skills in the communities local to its operations. Earlier this year it invested more than £750,000 in support for its customers and local communities during the Covid-19 crisis, including donating 853 laptops to 50 schools and colleges across the country, including 412 to 20 schools across Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire
  • Prior to the covid crisis, around 12,000 people visited Drax for educational tours each year, many of whom were students, visiting as part of Drax’s efforts to work with schools and colleges to promote Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects
  • To ensure school pupils didn’t miss out on these important tours and valuable experience of the world of work during the Covid-19 crisis, the company has created virtual tours for people to access online and has also teamed up with Oak National Academy to provide virtual work experience to students.
  • In December last year Drax announced its world-leading ambition to use BECCS to permanently remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it produces right across its operations – creating a negative carbon footprint for the company by 2030 and making a significant contribution towards the UK’s net zero target.
  • BECCS at Drax could underpin a Zero Carbon Humber whereby other industrial businesses in the region could tap into the same carbon transportation and storage infrastructure enabling the wider decarbonisation across the region.
  • Selby College’s 5,500 students have access to courses ranging from entry level up to degree courses, including NVQ‘s in Engineering, Construction, Administration, Health and Social Care, and Hairdressing

Media contacts:

Ben Wicks
Drax Media Manager
E: [email protected]
T: 07761 525 662

Megan Hopgood
Drax Group Media Intern
E: [email protected]
T: 07867 536 335

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 2,900-strong employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. 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 two thirds of 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.  It also owns and operates four gas power stations in England.


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

Pellet production:

Drax owns and operates three pellet mills in the US South which manufacture compressed wood pellets (biomass) produced from sustainably managed working forests. These pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

About Selby College

Selby College is a highly rated College in the heart of North Yorkshire, providing education and training opportunities for students aged 16 right up to 70+. Learners from all over Yorkshire and the Humber travel to Selby College because of its reputation for high-quality education.

Providing a wealth of courses and clear progression routes, Selby College offers A Levels, Vocational courses, Apprenticeships, Higher Education, Adult Learning and Professional Courses for Employers.

Established in 1984, the College today employs more than 250 full-time teaching and support staff. Following a £35m investment in its state-of-the-art campus, Selby College boasts some of the most up-to-date facilities of any education provider in the area.

Selby College is also playing a leading role alongside other local institutions in the development of the Yorkshire & Humber Institute of Technology, which is one of twelve of its kind across the country designed to increase higher-level technical skills for employers. The College has also been selected by the Department of Education to deliver its brand-new T Level qualifications from September 2022, which are high-quality technical alternatives to A Levels.

For more information visit www.selby.ac.uk