Archives: Press Release

Drax invests in 30 new rail wagons supporting energy security and jobs whilst cutting supply chain emissions

Drax, the UK’s biggest generator of renewable electricity, is expanding its rail fleet by investing in 30 new rail wagons to deliver the biomass it needs to generate enough renewable power for four million UK homes at its North Yorkshire power station.

The upgraded high-capacity wagons manufactured by British firm WH Davis will help to further reduce Drax’s carbon emissions and make its biomass supply chain more resilient and efficient.

Drax’s fleet of 225 rail wagons, the first of their kind in the world, were designed and developed by Lloyd’s Register Rail (now Ricardo Rail) and WH Davis based in Mansfield – the UK’s last independent freight wagon manufacturer.

The innovative design of these new wagons has increased the amount of biomass able to be transported in each wagon by 30 per cent, allowing them to carry 71.6 tonnes of biomass each, reducing the number of rail journeys required and reducing supply chain emissions.

The first of 30 new wagons are expected to come off the production line early next year and go into operation delivering biomass from the Port of Tyne to Drax, reducing emissions on this route by over 25%.

Bruce Heppenstall, Drax Plant Director, said: “Our biomass trains deliver up to 30,000 tonnes of biomass to the power station each day, enabling Drax to power millions of homes and businesses across the UK with reliable, renewable electricity and support energy security.

“It’s therefore vital that we have a robust supply chain and investing in these new wagons will further increase our resilience and cut carbon emissions on our Tyne to Drax rail route by more than a quarter, whilst continuing to support thousands of jobs across the North, including at WH Davis and Davis Wagon Services’ facilities.”

Since it converted two thirds of its power station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, Drax has transformed its business to become Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project and the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator, playing a critical role in energy security.

This transformation has also preserved and supported jobs – with Drax’s operations supporting almost 6,000 jobs across the North at a time when other power stations have closed.

Each train is able to carry sufficient biomass for Drax to generate enough reliable renewable electricity to supply around 800 UK homes for a year.

Jonathan Hamer, Managing Director of WH Davis, said: “These additional 30 new biomass wagons reflect the strength and depth of the Davis Group, including Davis Wagon Services, to provide a full turnkey solution for customers from manufacture to maintenance. This contract builds on the previous supply to Drax for its unique biomass wagon fleet requirements and shows their confidence in the quality and reliability of the WH Davis product.

“As the only rail freight manufacturer in the UK it is important for us to win such contracts to ensure the continuity of skills within our locally based work force. Drax’s confidence in us allows this to continue and develop.”

Mark Fletcher, Member of Parliament for Bolsover, said: “This is a fantastic investment which will strengthen the UK’s energy security whilst supporting local skilled manufacturing jobs.

“These new wagons will help keep the lights on for many years to come, and they are a real example of how British companies can lead the world in innovation and engineering; I am proud to have such a great company based in the Bolsover Constituency.”

Drax’s biomass comes into the ports on the east and west coasts from North America and Europe, and is brought to the power station by rail, because it is more efficient than road transportation.

Drax is committed to boosting the region’s economy by investing in skills, innovation, transport, and culture. A recent study found that Drax contributes over £700 million to the North’s economy and supports close to 6,000 jobs.

ENDS

Photo caption: A biomass train arriving at Drax Power Station

Media contacts:

Megan Hopgood
Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07936 350 175

Notes to editors:

  • By using biomass, Drax has delivered carbon savings of almost 100 per cent compared to when the power station only used coal to generate electricity.
  • More than 95% of the electricity Drax Group produced in 2021 was renewable from its biomass and hydro operations – enough to power five million households.
  • The majority of the biomass Drax uses comes from North America and Europe on ships to ports on the east and west coasts of the UK (Immingham, Hull, Port of Tyne and Liverpool). It is then taken to the power station from the ports by rail.
  • Drax has an average of 17 biomass trains arriving at the power station per day (over a six-day working week) in order to supply the pellets needed to generate and supply 11 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity.
  • The fuel is transported to Drax via rail rather than road, to further reduce carbon emissions, as it is more efficient than road transportation.
  • Independent research by Oxford Economics using 2021 data showed that Drax supported over 17,800 jobs across the country – almost 6,000 of which were across the North of England (Yorkshire and Humber, North West and North East). In addition Drax generated £749m for the Northern regional economy and £1.8 billion for the whole of the UK.
  • Drax continues to progress its plans to deliver a green jobs boom in the UK in the years ahead by becoming a world leader in negative emissions technology BECCS and investing billions of pounds in renewable energy projects.
  • Drax aims to source 80% of the services and materials for BECCS from British businesses, and it recently signed an agreement with British Steel to explore opportunities to source steel for the construction from the firm’s Scunthorpe and Teesside plants.
  • Thousands of jobs could start being created at Drax in just a couple of years’ time, with work to deploy BECCS at Drax Power Station set to get underway as soon as 2024, with around 10,000 jobs being created and supported during the project’s peak.

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers: 

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com

UK’s largest power station lights up for Poppy Appeal

The projection at the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator should be visible from miles around to commemorate those involved in the two world wars and other conflicts.

Bruce Heppenstall, Plant Director at Drax, said:

“Drax has a proud history of supporting the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. By projecting the symbol of remembrance on to one of our cooling towers we are aiming to show armed forces personnel throughout the generations the gratitude we feel for the sacrifices they’ve made.

“This year we’re pleased to be able to gather in person with our colleagues who have served in the military, to pay our respects and support the Royal British Legion, which provides lifelong support to our armed forces community.”

Drax Power Station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, will project the image onto one of the power station’s 114m tall cooling towers between 5pm and 12am from Armistice Day, Friday November 11 to Remembrance Sunday, November 13.

This is the third year that Drax has marked the occasion with a projection. Members of the public are welcome to view the projection safely from the Drax Sports and Social Club car park opposite the power station where they will also have the opportunity to donate to the Poppy Appeal via QR code.

L-R: Steve Chamberlain, Andy Lewis, Jenny Twentyman, Christian Reeve, Bruce Heppenstall, Richard Hudson, Gordon Banks, Holly Clough, Gavin Kirk and Dominic Box

Gavin Kirk is a Technical Training Co-ordinator at Drax and an ex-Army Warrant Officer who served with both the Parachute Regiment and Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) and completed 22 Years’ service finishing his Military career in 2018.

Gavin helped to organise the Poppy Appeal at the power station this year. He said:

“I’m proud to work for an organisation that supports the Royal British Legion having witnessed first-hand their support to some of my Military Comrades post serving in the Military. There are at least 20 ex-Armed Forces personnel working at Drax, as well as several Army Reserves. The help the Legion provides for veterans like me is fantastic, with many of us relying on this support to help transition to civilian lives.”

As well as the projection, Drax is also donating £3,000 to the Poppy Appeal and will be laying wreaths at war memorials local to its operations across the UK.

Drax is committed to supporting the communities local to its operations through various initiatives including fundraising for local charities and supporting education and skills.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Megan Hopgood
Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07936 350 175

Notes to editors:

Drax illuminated one of its cooling towers in blue lights in 2020 in recognition of the work of the NHS during the pandemic, and also projected a white rose onto the cooling towers to mark Yorkshire Day on 1st August.

Earlier this year, the cooling towers were lit up in red and blue to celebrate the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and in September a tribute to the Queen was projected during the period of mourning.

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers: 

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com

Drax raises £9,000 for Humber charity CatZero

From unemployed people struggling to find work to young people seeking direction, CatZero’s unique approach allows the charity to meet specific needs. Tailored plans encourage participants to break down barriers while building trust and confidence, using self-analysis, development, and challenges as tools for lasting personal change.

CatZero is named after the charity’s round the world, 72-foot Challenge yacht, which is used by groups of young people and adults as a tool to build self-confidence, teamwork skills and co-operation.

Drax employees took part in a charity golf day and the funds raised were then matched by the company’s Charity Committee. The donation will go towards CatZero programmes supporting Forces’ veterans.

Jane Breach, Drax Community Engagement & Visitor Centre Team Leader, said: “The charity golf day was a great opportunity to combine team building with raising money for a cause close to the hearts of our colleagues. We’re proud to support the positive work CatZero does for so many people across the region and we hope this donation will help to make a difference in the lives of the those who take part in the programme.”

Catzero Operations Manager, Pete Tighe, said: “Donations such as these are vital to helping us continue to deliver projects to young people, families, single parents, and adults across the whole Humber region.  To date, we have helped more than 2,000 people, including individuals who are recovering from mental health issues, long term unemployed, service veterans, ex-drug users and ex-offenders.

“Thank you to all the Drax employees who took part in the charity golf day and raised such a significant amount.”

Drax is committed to supporting the communities local to its operations through various initiatives including fundraising for local charities and supporting education and skills.

ENDS

Photo caption: Jane Breach, Drax Community Engagement & Visitor Centre Team Leader and Pete Tighe, CatZero Operations and Partnership Manager

Media contacts:

Megan Hopgood
Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07936 350 175

Notes to editors:

  • Drax’s Charity Committee has a dedicated fund for supporting good causes local to its operations, which include Drax Power Station near Selby and its hydro power plants in Scotland.
  • It accepts funding requests that will have a positive impact on the local community by supporting the company’s STEM (Science Engineering Technology and Maths) education outreach work and improving skills and employability.
  • Charities and community organisations local to Drax’s operations which support STEM and education outreach, skills and employability, or which work to improve local communities, can apply for small grants from Drax.
  • To request an application form, email [email protected] or fill out an enquiry form on the Drax website.

About CatZero

CatZero is named after the 72-foot Challenge Round the World Racing Yacht which is used with groups of young people and adults as a tool to build self-confidence, teamwork skills and co-operation. CatZero have also developed a number of exciting and challenging racing events and adventures for people to take part in throughout the year.

From unemployed people struggling to find work to families reaching crisis point and troubled young people, CatZero’s unique approach allows them to meet specific needs. through breaking barriers and building trust and confidence in participants using self-analysis, development, and challenge.

Living and working with others in challenging conditions helps young people to overcome their fears and insecurities, create new friendships and visualise new futures. Isolated from peer pressure and home life distraction, they are given the time and space needed to truly break free and see their need to make a change.

The success of CatZero’s programmes is evident, with more than 60 per cent of participants having moved into employment, education or training.

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers: 

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com

Families enjoy spooktacular fun at Drax’s Skylark Centre

The two days of events during the October half-term holidays also featured spine-tingling STEM (science technology engineering and maths) themed activities to suit children of all ages including exploring magic potions for wannabe wizards and witches and a creepy ‘Make Your Own Blood’ session for budding vampires.

Isis Breach-Birchall, aged 11 from Goole

A ‘dead famous gravestones walk’ and ‘scattered skeletons’ game run by the Drax visitor centre team rounded off the family day out at the 350-acre nature reserve at Barlow, near Selby, which forms part of the power station site.

The drop-in event saw almost 500 children and adults join the ghoulishly good fun at the nature reserve. Developed by Drax in the early 1970s, it is now home to a variety of wildlife and is also a valuable educational resource for schools, colleges and local nature groups.

Jane Breach, Community Engagement & Visitor Centre Team Leader at Drax, said: “We’ve not been able to run Halloween events at the Skylark Centre for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, so it was fantastic to see families and visitors of all ages enjoying the half-term STEM activities with us this year. There will be plenty more great events coming up next year and we look forward to seeing everyone again then.”

Amber Kilmartin, aged 8 from Selby

Alexa Kilmartin from Selby, who attended the event with her two daughters, said: “This was our first time visiting the Skylark Centre. It was recommended to us by a friend and I’m really glad we know about it now. We’ve had a great day, the girls have loved the activities especially making their own blood. We’ll definitely look out for what events are running here in the future.”

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Drax Power Station welcomed more than 12,000 visitors each year. The power station reopened earlier this year to welcome schools and colleges for educational tours.

For information on future events at Drax and the Skylark nature reserve, visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DraxGroup/ or the Drax website at https://www.drax.com/visit-us/#events.

ENDS

Main photo caption: Paisley Jackson, aged 6 from Selby and Lottie Swift, aged 3 from Goole

Media contacts:

Megan Hopgood
Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07936 350 175

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers: 

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com

Drax boosts career opportunities with graduate scheme

The graduates have secured places on the scheme at Drax Group which owns 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.

Karen McKeever, Drax Chief People Officer, said:

“As our business expands, it’s vital that we nurture new talent to support our decarbonisation plans as well as offering career development opportunities. Providing these graduates 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.”

Alycia Booth, aged 21, who has joined Drax’s trading team, said:

“I applied for a job at Drax because I was looking for a company that had a graduate scheme where I would have the best opportunity to grow and experience different areas of the company. I felt like Drax was the perfect place to start my career as a graduate, because they offer so much support. I am really looking forward to meeting my team and getting to learn all about how Drax works to provide power to our country renewably.”

Hakeem Hussain, aged 23, who has joined Drax as a finance graduate, said:

“Applying to Drax meant the opportunity to work for a company that is forward thinking with goals and values which I believe in. I am looking forward to gaining valuable knowledge and learning from the excellent finance teams within Drax, which in time will enable me to develop and excel in my career here.”

The graduates beginning their careers at Drax Group this year are:

  • Connor Houghton, 21, Group Market Analysis
  • Hakeem Hussain, 23, Financial Planning & Analysis
  • Mark Swift, 22, Financial Reporting
  • Obinna Iwuagwu, 27, Tax and Treasury
  • Mohamed Salem, 22, Procurement/Financial Operations
  • Alycia Booth, 21, Trading and Optimisation
  • Bethany Moss, 22, Renewables and Sustainable Commodities

Five of the graduates will be based at Drax Power Station near Selby, one will be based in Drax’s London office and one in Northampton.

Drax is committed to supporting education and skills and runs a number of initiatives including work experience, tours of the power station and a long running apprenticeship scheme.

Drax already supports 17,800 jobs across the UK, 6,000 of which are in the North. The development of BECCS at Drax Power Station would see an additional 10,000 jobs created and supported during construction which is set to get underway as soon as 2024.

ENDS

Photo caption: L-R: Mark Swift, Mohamed Salem, Hakeem Hussain, Obinna Iwuagwu, Alycia Booth, Connor Houghton, Bethany Moss

Media contacts:

Megan Hopgood
Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07936 350 175

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers: 

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com

Drax begins £2M upgrade at historic hydro power station

Tongland power station, near Kirkcudbright, is part of the Galloway Hydro Scheme which was developed in the 1930s. The scheme has six power stations, eight dams and a network of tunnels, aqueducts, and pipelines which spans around 40 miles from north to south.

The project at Tongland is part of a wider £10m investment programme by Drax, which aims to protect and fully restore its historic hydro power stations.

As part of the refurbishment, Tongland Power Station’s exterior walls will receive a new concrete coating as well as a coat of mineral-based paint to protect the integrity of the building for decades to come.

The refurbishment works are being carried out by Gunite (Eastern) Ltd who are one of the country’s leading multi-disciplined specialist contractors.

Jim Cooper, Technical Sales Manager (Infrastructure) said:

“I know that I speak for everyone here at Gunite (Eastern) when I say that we are all very much looking forward to working in partnership with Drax Hydro to deliver this prestigious project.”

Mike Wynd, Drax’s Head of Hydro, said:

“The Galloway Hydro Scheme has been generating flexible, renewable electricity for almost 90 years, and this major refurbishment will ensure it continues to do so for many years to come.

“Scotland has a long and proud history of hydroelectricity, and with this series of multi-million-pound investments Drax is ensuring these power stations will play an important role for many years to come.”

Drax acquired the Galloway hydro scheme alongside the Lanark hydro scheme and the Cruachan pumped-hydro storage facility in Argyll in January 2019, helping to make the company a leading provider of flexible, low carbon and renewable power generation.

Media contacts:

Megan Hopgood
Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
T: 07936 350 175

Editor’s Notes

  • The Tongland Power Station refurbishment programme is scheduled to begin in September 2022 and be completed by May 2023.
  • The paint used in the project is mineral based, and chemically bonds with the concrete to allow water to evaporate from the concrete.
  • Prior to work starting at Tongland power station, it will be scaffolded and wrapped in plastic to protect the building while the work is completed.
  • Including the refurbishment of Tongland, Drax is investing around £10m on its run-of-river hydro assets including refurbishing Stonebyres and Bonnington power stations near Lanark and upgrading the Glenlochar barrage on the Galloway scheme.

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:

The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers:  

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com

A statement from Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner on Drax’s biomass sourcing

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner

As the world’s leading producer and supplier of sustainable biomass, Drax is committed to ensuring the biomass we source delivers positive outcomes for the climate, for nature and for the communities in which we operate.

To be clear, not all biomass is sustainable or renewable, but when sourced in the right way it does lead to the positive outcomes we are committed to delivering, and we have clear policies and processes in place to ensure this is the case.

As CEO, I understand that achieving and sustaining these positive outcomes needs constant challenge – both internally and externally – particularly with those that don’t share our vision of the critical role biomass has to play in decarbonising our economy.

That is why my team and I dedicate so much of our time to engaging with both advocates and critics of biomass, and whilst these conversations frequently challenge us, they can ultimately make us think differently and change the way we operate for the better.

Biomass remains a relatively new part of the energy mix and it is increasingly important that accurate information is readily available for those wanting to learn more about what we do. We take all claims relating to our business very seriously and investigate them, but equally we feel it is important to identify those occasions where allegations levied against us are misleading or simply untrue.

This week, we have seen inaccurate statements about Drax that have focused primarily on the views of a vocal minority who oppose biomass. Many of these claims have sought to repeat the inaccurate views about biomass, which have for years been promoted by those who are ill-informed about the science behind sustainable forestry and climate change, and those who have vested interests in seeing the biomass industry fail. Given the severity of the false claims made, I wanted to directly address some of the issues:

1. Biomass protects and enhances the environment

Done right, biomass plays a critical role in protecting and enhancing our environment. Not only does biomass displace fossil fuels directly in the production of electricity, it also supports markets for wooden products used in construction that replace the use of other carbon intensive materials like cement.

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s leading science-based climate authority, backed by thousands of scientists – restated in their latest report the critical role that biomass will play in meeting global climate targets when sourced sustainably.

The forests that we source our biomass from are managed in accordance with best practices designed to support the health and growth of these forests over the long term. For example, in Canada, forest management has helped stop the spread of disease and forest fires that have destroyed forest ecosystems and the biodiversity which exists there.

In the South of the US, we take thinnings that help to open up the forest canopy and get light onto the forest floor, which in turn supports habitats for insects, wildflowers and species such as quail, which have been in decline.

2. Demand for pellets does not drive deforestation

Demand for pellets is not driving deforestation.  Canada has a 0% deforestation rate.  In the US South, forest inventory has more than doubled since the 1950s.  The demand for pellets is a tiny fraction of overall demand for wooden products, less than 0.1% in the US. In Canada less than half a percent (0.36%) is harvested each year, with pellets being a fraction of that demand.

The sawdust, bark, wood chips, and thinnings as well as diseased and damaged wood produced when the forests are harvested for other sectors makes up a small proportion of the total fibre harvested – just 5% in British Columbia and 4% in the south of the US. (Forest harvest statistics show wood pellet production (woody biomass) accounts for about 4% of material harvested in the US according to UN’s FAOSTAT Forestry. In British Columbia, 74 million cubic meters (m3) harvested through the BC Annual Allowable Cut, converted to metric tonnes (mt) is about 45 million mt. BC exported 2.37 million mt of wood pellets, which is 5.3% of overall harvest).

3. What are Category Two Licences and why does Drax hold them?

Under the Category Two Licence programme in British Columbia, Canada, Drax is eligible to bid for tenure agreements on plots of land that are issued by the British Columbia Timber Sales Programme (BCTS) which is an arm of Government.

The Category Two Licence program is based on a well-established and legislated process.

The bidding procedure is a sealed, online process and if successful, Drax has a power of attorney (POA) in place where all harvesting obligations become the responsibility of the sawmilling company that holds the POA. This practice is permitted under the terms of the BCTS.

It is the sawmill company which controls the harvesting and sorting processes of the forest material and thereby ensures that it gets what it needs. Drax is not involved in the harvesting or sorting process.

We have arrangements with the sawmills we work with to supply us with sawmill residuals – sawdust, chips and bark which is used to produce wood pellets in exchange for the rights to the timber on Category Two Licences. The economics of the wood pellet industry do not facilitate full scale harvesting for the manufacture of pellets.

Drax’s name stays on the licence’s paperwork because the company is the bid winner. This does not mean Drax undertakes any harvesting activity.

Drax currently holds two Category Two Licences in British Columbia. At this time, we are not bidding for any more Category Two Licences in British Columbia.

The BBC claimed that one of the plots of land they featured would not have been harvested had Drax not bid on it – because there were no other bidders. In circumstances where no one bids on a plot of land, the British Columbia Government often puts it up for auction again.

4. The BBC was wrong to give a false impression that logs were being taken from the two featured Category Two Licence areas and taken to our Meadowbank pellet plant in British Columbia

Drax did not receive any material from the two featured Category Two Licence areas in the BBC’s Panorama programme.

The truck the BBC followed and showed taking logs to the Meadowbank facility was, we believe, visiting a different area of forest to the locations of either of our Category Two Licence areas.

In the programme, the reporter says they followed the logging truck “60 miles (95km) north on the highway”, before turning off on the logging road. We don’t know where they went but we know the licenses that are in our name are 350km away from our Meadowbank facility.

The logs on that truck were what’s categorised in the forestry industry in British Columbia as left-over material that sawmills don’t want.

One of the two Category Two Licence sites the BBC focused on was felled and cleared by the sawmill company in December 2021. Whilst this sawmill did provide us with residuals relating to our agreement with them, it did not come from this site.

The forest companies control the sorting and harvesting process, to ensure they get the materials they need. Drax is not involved in that process.

Forest companies harvest the forests and cut the trees into log lengths and sort the portions by multiple product class. Usually this falls into two grades – sawlog grade logs for sawmills and pulp logs for pulp mills.

Sawlogs go to the sawmills and the rest go to where there is a market for them – if there isn’t a market, it becomes left-over and we may take it.

5. Why did the programme show slash being left on the forest floor after harvesting?

Slash is a term used for the very low-grade material which is not merchantable.

Under the British Columbia Government harvesting rules, slash can be left on sites for up to two years to dry out before being taken to a pellet mill or burned on site.

The company we gave the POA to for the harvest of this site will ensure the slash is managed appropriately in line with the British Columbia Government’s regulations.

6. Drax’s Category Two Licences are not areas of primary forest

Primary forest is a term which organisations interpret differently. Drax, and many other organisations, refer to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization definition for primary forest which indicates that primary forests have “no clearly visible indications of human activities”.

Drax has not acquired any Canadian licences for forests designated as primary forests under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization definition.

The BBC’s footage clearly showed that one of the Category Two Licence sites had a nearby road and in the British Columbian Government harvest plan for one of these sites there is a specific requirement for the “700 Road to be screened”.

In our opinion this is evidence that this area was not primary forest and we did not take any material directly from this site.

Areas identified by the Government for harvest are carefully selected by them using an exhaustive list of environmental criteria that includes but is not limited to; old growth management; landscape and site level biodiversity; age class distribution (old growth); riparian management; watershed management; wildlife management; visual quality; species at risk; rare and sensitive ecosystems; cultural heritage resources; soil quality; species diversity; site productivity; as well as social and economic considerations.

7. Does Drax use logs which should instead be sent to sawmills to make wood products?

No. To date in 2022, the material used in our Canadian pellet plants includes 81% sawmill residuals, 8% harvest residuals and 10% roundwood, including pulp logs (grade 4).

All materials are sorted and graded by the sawmill/lumber operator before delivery to Drax. The Grade 4 logs that we use are not higher quality logs. These can be pulp grade logs, but if there is no market for pulp logs then when the sawmills harvest and sort the logs, they become leftover from sawmill material and are often then used by Drax to make pellets.

Commercial forestry is driven by a demand for high grade saw logs, which are processed in sawmills, with the resultant timber then used in construction and manufacturing.

The material that is not used for these purposes – because it is often diseased, mis-shapen or uneconomic – could be used for producing biomass, in line with our sourcing policy.

8. Rigorous independent oversight plays an important part in the governance of the biomass industry

Drax adheres to all required legislation, regulations and standards which govern the energy sector, Drax’s businesses and its supply chains. It ensures the ongoing sustainability of its feedstock in accordance with the required legislation.

The carbon accounting rules that underpin these regulations and standards have been developed in accordance with world leading international science from the UN IPCC 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and are derived from international frameworks such as the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (“RED”).

Companies which use biomass are required to measure and report on supply chain emissions. These requirements are unique in that they are stricter and more onerous than what is required for other energy generation technologies. As a result, Drax reports on its full supply chain and associated emissions to Ofgem under legislative requirements (including the Renewables Obligation and CfD).

Drax also provides extensive information to voluntary certification schemes, such as the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), FSC and SFI which provide third party oversight to ensure the material we are using meets the required sustainability standards.

We publish a comprehensive overview of this data in our Annual Reports (including data on Scope 1 and 2 emissions and emissions intensity figures which are audited).

Drax makes all data and information on its emissions and catchment areas, including evidence of forest growth, growing stock, and sequestration rates (forest productivity), available for public consumption. Our supply chain emissions are reported in full in our annual report and accounts. We report all of our emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3).

In addition to this, due to the British Columbia Government’s rigorous legislative system and British Columbia Timber Sale’s SFI certification, we have every confidence that areas selected for harvest, including under the Category 2 programme, are done so to fulfill a government management objective.

This is done as part of the long-term harvest planning process by government, with industry and other stakeholders who have interests in the land, including First Nations and the general public.

Sustainable biomass is increasingly being recognised by governments and scientists around the world as having the potential to play a critical role in tackling the climate crisis, supporting communities and contributing to energy security, and I hope this information reiterates our commitment to sustainability which sits at the heart of our purpose and everything we do.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO

View our response to the BBC Panorama episode here and more information on biomass sourcing from Canada here.

Drax response to BBC Panorama programme on Canadian Forestry

A Drax spokesperson said: “Canada has some of the most highly regulated forests in the world which ensures the forests in British Columbia (BC) are managed properly and provide positive benefits to nature, the climate and people.

“People living in and around these forests are best placed to determine how they should be looked after, not the BBC. Drax’s own world-leading sustainable sourcing policies are aligned with the rigorous regulatory frameworks and rules set by both the BC and UK governments.

“The UN’s IPCC – the world’s leading science-based climate authority, backed by thousands of scientists – restated in their latest report the critical role that biomass will play in meeting global climate targets when sourced sustainably. Biomass is used by countries around the world to provide reliable renewable energy, whatever the weather, which displaces fossil fuels like coal from energy systems, supporting climate targets.

“In this edition of Panorama, the BBC has focused primarily on the views of a vocal minority who oppose biomass.  The programme makers have sought to repeat the inaccurate claims about biomass which have for years been promoted by those who are ill-informed about the science behind sustainable forestry and climate change and those who have vested interests in seeing the biomass industry fail. Good journalism should start from a neutral position to seek out the facts.

“The Panorama team did not contact us while they were conducting their research in Canada to arrange to visit our facilities. 

“From the outset we were presented with a series of one-sided assertions from the BBC. Our lawyers have written to the BBC to remind them of their legal and regulatory obligations and we are considering further action.

“At Drax, we are open and transparent about our operations and since becoming aware of the production team’s visit to Canada, many people across our business have collectively spent hundreds of hours engaging with them in an effort to encourage an accurate portrayal of our business and the wider forestry industry.

“As anyone in the BC forestry industry knows, the forests there are not harvested for biomass, they are harvested for high value timber used in construction. 80% of the material used to make our pellets at Drax in Canada is sawmill residues – sawdust, wood chips and bark left over when the timber is processed. The rest is waste material collected from the forests which would otherwise be burned to reduce the risk of wildfires and disease. This is the material used by Drax to produce 12% of the UK’s renewable and secure electricity, playing a vital role in keeping the lights on for millions of homes and businesses.”

Britain sending Europe power lifeline – report

  • Britain exported more power to Europe than ever before in the second quarter of the year, making it a net exporter of electricity for the first time in over a decade, according to a new report.
  • The new trade surplus with Europe was worth around £1.5 billion for the UK economy during the period.
  • The energy crisis in Europe may have shone a light on an opportunity for Britain to become ‘Europe’s power battery’ by investing in long duration electricity storage technologies.

For the first time in over a decade, Britain became a net exporter of electricity to its European neighbours, making around £1.5bn for the economy in three months.

An independent report by academics from Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights, commissioned via Imperial Consultants, shows that in the three months to June 2022, 8% (5.5TWh) of the electricity generated by Britain was exported abroad – the largest amount on record.

Whilst Russia throttled gas supplies and France suffered severe reliability problems with its nuclear power stations, Britain developed a trade surplus in electricity with the rest of Europe.

The excess was exported abroad through subsea cables known as interconnectors.

Share of British electricity that was imported and exported each quarter.

 

The report’s authors estimate the trade surplus was worth around £1.5 billion for the UK economy during the three months to June.

Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London, and lead author of the quarterly Electric Insights report, said:

“Britain has played an important role in helping to keep the lights on across Europe amid the deepening energy crisis which is being weaponised by Russia against our nearest neighbours.

“With Europe now facing long-term security of supply problems, there could be an economic argument for Britain to step up investment in power production in the years ahead to build an even bigger trade surplus, and protect our nation from damaging energy shortages.”

Another country highlighted by the report to have exported more power than usual to the continent was Norway, with its vast hydro reservoirs being drained to their lowest levels since 1996. Even Britain was a net importer of power from the Scandinavian state over the period, using the country’s enormous hydro storage capacity to balance out drops in supply from intermittent sources of electricity such as wind and solar farms.

The Electric Insights report states there could be “value in increasing the amount of pumped hydro energy storage in the UK” to balance shortfalls in supply from renewables, rather than relying on Norwegian imports. The UK has just under 3GW of pumped storage hydro capacity, less than half of the capacity of comparable countries like Germany.

While the need for the UK to have greater long duration energy storage capacity is growing, barriers to securing private investment in these projects means it has been almost 40 years since a new pumped storage hydro power station was built here.

There are growing calls from the energy industry for the government to introduce measures to support the roll-out of a new generation of long duration storage plants.

Drax is progressing plans to build a new 600 MW underground pumped storage hydro facility at its existing Cruachan site in Scotland.

Ian Kinnaird, Drax’s Scottish Assets Director, said:

“Britain desperately needs a new generation of pumped storage hydro plants to strengthen its own energy security, but it is clear the rest of Europe would benefit as well.

“We have the opportunity to become Europe’s power battery, helping our friends and neighbours reduce their dependence on energy from Russia whilst enabling more homegrown renewable electricity to power UK homes and businesses. It’s an opportunity which Britain should take, or risk being left behind by other countries.”

ENDS

Media contacts:

Aidan Ker
Media Manager
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)7849090368

Ali Lewis
Head of Media & PR
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)7712 670 888

Editor’s Notes

[Click image to view/download the report PDF or alternatively read the report webpage here]

 

A copy of the Drax Electric Insights Q2 2022 report is available by clicking here.

  • The report found Britain had a trade surplus of 5% of electricity generated (8% exported minus 3% imported), with a net value of £500m per month.
  • Historically, Britain has been an importer of electricity, with an average of 8% of electricity coming from our neighbours over the last decade.
  • In May, Drax applied for consent to build a new 600MW pumped storage hydro plant at its existing Cruachan facility in Argyll, Scotland.
  • The new power station could be operation in 2030 with construction work getting underway in 2024.
  • No investment decision has yet been taken and development remains subject to the right regulatory framework with the UK government.
  • Last month, Switzerland opened Europe’s latest pumped storage hydro plant under the Alps. The plant has the same storage capacity as 400,000 electric vehicle batteries.

About Electric Insights

  • Electric Insights is commissioned by Drax and delivered by a team of independent academics from Imperial College London, facilitated by the college’s consultancy company – Imperial Consultants. The quarterly report analyses raw data made publicly available by National Grid and Elexon, which run the electricity and balancing market respectively, and Sheffield Solar.
  • Electric Insights Quarterly focuses on supply and demand, prices, emissions, the performance of the various generation technologies and the network that connects them.
  • The quarterly reports from the last four and a half years can be access at the new website reports.electricinsights.co.uk alongside the interactive electricinsights.co.uk which provides data from 2009 until the present.
  • You can embed Electric Insight’s live dashboard on your website or blog to keep track of what’s happening in the power grid through a new widget. 

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.

Drax’s around 3,000 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. For more information visit www.drax.com

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.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:

The Group has 18 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. 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 plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.

Customers: 

Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com