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Capacity from renewables has overtaken fossil fuels

A major green milestone has been reached on Britain’s electricity grid, as the total capacity available from renewables has overtaken fossil fuels for the first time, according to the latest Drax Electric Insights report.

A third of fossil fuel generating capacity has retired over the last five years – whilst the capacity from wind, solar, biomass, hydro and other renewables has tripled, taking the total renewable capacity available on the system to 42GW.

This means that for the first time renewables have the biggest share of Britain’s electricity generating infrastructure, overtaking the 40.6GW of capacity available from fossil fuels.

  • Wind farms provide the biggest share of renewable capacity on the system, with more than 20GW available.
  • Solar comes in second providing more than 13GW.
  • Biomass is third, with 3.2GW.

Biomass played an important role in helping to tip the balance from fossil fuels to renewables with two coal-to-biomass conversions being completed during the third quarter of the year at Lynemouth in Northumberland and Drax Power Station’s Unit 4 conversion in Yorkshire – adding 1GW of capacity in total.

The growth in offshore wind power has made Britain the world’s leader, with 45% of global wind capacity stationed here – and so far this year, Galloper, Rampion, Race Bank and Walney 3 have all come online, making Walney the world’s largest offshore wind farm at 0.66GW.

There are almost a million rooftop solar power systems in operation across Britain, contributing to the 13GW of capacity available.

The Electric Insights report, produced independently by researchers from Imperial College London for Drax, also looks at why power prices are at a ten-year high and identifies Brexit as being a major factor. An 18% increase in power costs was caused by the currency devaluation associated with the 2016 referendum result, when the GB Pound fell against the Euro and US Dollar.

However, balancing the power system also added six per cent to wholesale prices as the day-to-day costs of running the transmission system came in at £3.8m per day during the third quarter of 2018.

Dr Iain Staffell from Imperial, explained:

“The cost of balancing the system has doubled in the last four years. The amount of flexible generation on the system is a key driver.  Balancing costs rise when the output from flexible generators such as gas, coal, biomass and hydro, falls below 10GW.

“Having a ‘brittle’ power system with limited flexibility will be more expensive to control. More flexible generation, storage and demand-side response will be critical in minimising system costs in the future.”

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO said:

“More renewables are crucial for reducing carbon emissions and helping us to meet our climate targets – but flexible, lower carbon generation, is also clearly vital for controlling the costs of maintaining a stable, low carbon power system.

“The IPCC’s report recognised that in order to meet our climate change targets, up to 85% of global power generation needs to come from renewables by 2050. This means the remainder will have to be provided by flexible sources, which can support the system and help to keep costs down – such as biomass, hydro, pumped storage as well as high efficiency gas.”  

ENDS

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

Notes to editors:

  • The growing costs of balancing the power system highlight the importance of when and where – rather than just how much – electricity is produced and consumed. Over the quarter, there were 58 hours when managing electricity flows around the system cost more than generating the electricity in the first place.
  • During September, the balancing costs spiked several times when wind output was high. Wind cannot be forecasted with perfect accuracy, and generation occurs far from places where electricity is consumed, causing network constraints.  Both of these must be corrected using short-term dispatch of flexible sources, which incurs balancing costs.
  • Balancing costs include deploying fast-responding generators for backup and reserve, and adjusting the output of generators around the country to keep the transmission system within operating limits.

 

About Electric Insights

  • Electric Insights Quarterly was commissioned by Drax and is delivered independently by a team of academics from Imperial College London, facilitated by the College’s consultancy company – Imperial Consultants. The report analyses raw data that are made publicly available by National Grid and Elexon, which run the electricity and balancing market respectively. Released four times a year, it will focus on supply and demand, prices, emissions, the performance of the various generation technologies and the network that connects them.
  • Along with Dr Iain Staffell, the team from Imperial included Professors Richard Green and Tim Green, experts in energy economics and electrical engineering, Dr Rob Gross and Dr Malte Jansen who contributed expertise in energy policy. This edition of Electric insights includes work from guest author Luke Clark from Renewable UK.
  • The quarterly reports are backed by an interactive website electricinsights.co.uk which provides live data from 2009 until the present.

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 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.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

 

Would you Bee-lieve it? Honey produced at Drax power station

Two dozen honey bee colonies were established on the 350-acre nature reserve which forms part of the Drax site near Selby in the summer – and the busy insects have already produced enough honey to fill 350 jars, with more expected next year.

The latest nature project to take place on the Barlow Mound reserve which forms part of the Drax Power Station site saw West Yorkshire-based businessman Chris Holmes move the 24 hives into place in July as an initial trial. He has seen immediate success, with 300lbs of Barlow Mound Honey already produced.

Chris, who set up his business, Stickeys, in 2008, will now maintain the colonies over the winter ready for next year, when the bee population in the two dozen hives is expected to grow to more than a million and produce up to 2,000 jars of the sticky breakfast favourite.

Barlow Mound was developed at Drax from the early 1970s and has become a major nature reserve in the area, home to a variety of wildlife and plant life, and a valuable educational resource for schools, colleges and local nature groups.

The bees live on the reserve, just a few hundred yards from the power station, which is the biggest renewable power producer in the country and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe, producing enough renewable electricity to power around four million homes.

And the honey they have produced has already received the thumbs up for taste from staff at Drax including Andrew Christian, whose role at the power plant includes managing the Barlow Mound reserve and who worked with Chris on introducing the bees.

“I’m really proud that we’ve managed to bring the bees in and help enhance the ecology of the nature reserve still further. It’s just one more way in which we’re able to keep developing Barlow Mound and to get something as tasty as this as a result is a bonus,” said Andrew, who has already bought some of the honey for his own breakfasts.

“Working closely with our ecologists, we’re always looking for new ways to improve the biodiversity of the site and we thought that bees would be a great idea. Chris came highly recommended to us and it’s been a great success so far. It’s one more way to show that there’s more to Drax and the honey is absolutely delicious.”

Chris, who runs his business from his home in Flockton, near Wakefield, said:

“You might not expect a power station to be somewhere where bees would live but the site is absolutely perfect.

“Barlow Mound has got all the plants and pollen that honey bees need and it’s just an ideal location for them to thrive. It’s also a secure site which means the bees are safe and will be left alone to do their own thing, which is also important, and Drax have been brilliant in helping me to get this established.

“It’s now heading into winter so the bees won’t be producing any more honey until next year but when they do, I’m hoping it will be a really productive site for us. I hope this will be the start of us producing honey at Drax for many years to come.”

Each of the 24 colonies will be home to up to 50,000 bees when fully established, with each hive producing an expected 60lbs of honey a year, though that amount could increase or decrease depending on the weather conditions.

The bees’ site overlooks the power station, which recently converted the fourth of its six generating units from coal to running on renewable biomass. It has plans to repower its two remaining coal units to use gas, and be off coal ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline.

Drax is also scheduled to begin an innovative Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage pilot project later this year which could help the power station deliver negative emissions, essential if the world is to tackle climate change.

For more information or to buy any Stickeys honey, including Barlow Mound Honey, visit www.stickeys.co.uk

-ENDS-

Media contacts:

Ali Lewis

Drax Group Interim Head of Media & PR

E: [email protected]

T: 07712670888

 

 Mark Duffell

MCD Communications Ltd

E: [email protected]

T: 01484 968238

M: 07969 080272

 

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 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.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

Budget comments from Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO said:

“I strongly support the Chancellor’s decision to strengthen the total carbon price until at least 2021 – it provides investors with certainty and is a critical factor in ensuring an end to the use of coal in the power system, helping us to further decarbonise cost-effectively and cementing the UK’s leading role in tackling climate change. We welcome the Government’s acknowledgment that the carbon price must remain high enough to keep coal off the UK system beyond 2021 the carbon price should be set at the right level to prevent a resurgence in coal generation before 2025.” 

US Ambassador visits UK’s biggest power station

Mr Johnson, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had a tour of the power station and heard about how Drax upgraded two thirds of its generating units to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, to become the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Around 60 per cent of the biomass used by Drax to produce enough renewable electricity for four million households, comes from the sustainable working forests of the US South – making it the biggest importer of US agricultural products.

Drax also operates three pellet plants in the US South, which produce biomass for the power station in North Yorkshire.

Mr Johnson met with Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner and Drax Power CEO Andy Koss to hear about the transformation of the power station and their plans for the future.

He heard about their plans for a Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage pilot project, due to get underway this autumn, which if successful, could enable the power produced at Drax to become carbon negative – making a vital contribution to efforts to tackle climate change.

They also outlined proposals to repower the two remaining coal units to use gas and develop up to 200MW of battery storage, as well as the proposed £702 million acquisition of some of Scottish Power’s flexible and renewable power generation assets, including pumped storage and hydro, which Drax announced recently.

Mr Johnson said:

“Being here at Drax has been fascinating – the scale of the place is incredible, and the innovative projects and new technology being trialled here are very exciting.  

“Drax makes a really important contribution to the US economy – I am pleased to be here to mark the important investment they make.”

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said:

“We are delighted to welcome the Ambassador to Drax Power Station to celebrate the successful transatlantic relationship between Drax and the US, which plays a vital role in enabling us to source the biomass needed to produce enough flexible, renewable power for millions of homes and businesses in the UK.

“We play a valuable role in the communities where we operate in the US, creating jobs and breathing new life into areas previously affected by industrial decline. Since the acquisition of a third pellet mill we now employ almost 250 people over there, with plans to grow our self-supply of biomass so we’re producing up to 30% of the pellets used at the power station.”

L-R: Drax Power CEO Andy Koss, Ambassador Johnson, Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner and Stan Phillips,
Agricultural Counselor

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO added:

“One of the biggest challenges we had when we converted two thirds of the power station to use biomass instead of coal, was in creating a completely new global supply chain for biomass.

“We invested around £700m in new infrastructure both here at the power station, but also in the pellet mills we own and the port facilities we use in the US – all of that has been vital to the success of the transformation of the business. We’re now the UK’s biggest renewable power producer, generating around 15% of the country’s renewable electricity.”

Drax contributed around £1.7bn in GDP to the UK economy and supported more than 18,500 jobs here in 2016. That included more than £500m to the Northern Powerhouse’s regional economy and support for 6,000 jobs here.

ENDS

Media contact:

Jessica Gorton

Drax Group Press Officer

E: [email protected]

T: 07837 946802

Notes to editors:

  • Main photo L-R: Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner, Ambassador Johnson, Drax Power CEO Andy Koss and Stan Phillips, Agricultural Counselor
  • Drax’s acquisition of Scottish Power’s generation assets is expected to complete at the end of the year, subject to shareholder approval.
  • Drax recently converted the fourth of its six generating units from coal to use sustainable biomass – around 70% of the power produced at the power station is now renewable.
  • It has plans to repower its two remaining coal generating units to use gas, which are being considered by the planning inspectorate. If approved, Drax could stop using coal well ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline.

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.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

Drax HR team’s career advice for next generation of engineers

Human Resources (HR) staff from Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire shared tips on how to make a CV attractive to future employers during workshops with students at Sheffield University and spoke to students at Leeds Beckett University at its Graduate and Placements Fair.

The final year students also discussed the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills in finding work when they graduate. They also learned about potential opportunities for them to work as a year in industry student, or as a graduate at Drax – the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Resourcing specialist Shelley Lawton from Drax’s HR team, who delivered the sessions for the students, said she was impressed by how enthusiastic they were about the future, adding:

“We got some really good questions from the students about how they can stand out when applying for jobs, which is obviously something on all students’ minds as their courses end.

“It can be a big scary world out there when you have to go out and find a job. We advised the students to be selective, to focus on the quality of their applications, not quantity and to apply for the jobs they really want. By explaining why they want the role, hopefully, their passion and their personalities will shine through.”

She added that students were interested in engineering roles with Drax but also in a range of other roles in the company, which recently announced the acquisition of £702m worth of flexible and renewable power generation assets from Scottish Power, including pumped storage and hydro.

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO said:

“Engineering excellence has been key to Drax Power Station’s transformation into Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project, but our proposed expansion into new forms of generation, such as pumped storage and hydro power, means our requirement for highly skilled STEM graduates is only likely to increase.

“Taking part in these events at the brilliant universities in Sheffield and Leeds is all part of our long-term commitment to skills development. Every business in the Northern Powerhouse region has a role to play in creating opportunities for young people, reaching out to our communities and raising aspirations – encouraging them to develop the skills they’ll need in the future.

“We have world-class engineers in the North now, but we need to do more to ensure the next generation has the right education and skills, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to carry on that legacy.”

Nine engineering apprentices began their careers at the Selby-based power station in September, a 50% increase on last year’s intake as Drax continues to invest in and promote STEM skills.

The energy firm also sponsors a number of PhDs at Sheffield University, producing cutting-edge research into area such as the impact of human behaviour on vehicle to grid technologies – where electric cars could store and discharge power back to the grid to support the electricity system.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Ali Lewis

Drax Group Interim Head of Media & PR

E: [email protected]

T: 07712 670888

Mark Duffell

MCD Communications Ltd

E: [email protected]

T: 01484 968238

M: 07969 080272

Notes to editors:

  • Drax’s acquisition of Scottish Power’s generation assets is expected to complete at the end of the year, subject to shareholder approval.
  • Drax recently converted the fourth of its six generating units from coal to use sustainable biomass – around 70% of the power produced at the power station is now renewable.
  • It has plans to repower its two remaining coal generating units to use gas, which are being considered by the planning inspectorate. If approved, Drax could stop using coal well ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline.
  • The firm is also scheduled to begin an innovative Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage pilot project later this year which could help the power station deliver negative emissions, essential if the world is to tackle climate change.

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.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

 

Drax Power CEO Andy Koss comments on Aurora report

“The UK has a great track record on greenhouse gas reduction, but this research from Aurora provides a clear indication of the environmental risks associated with us not maintaining a strong carbon price – in particular a resurgence in coal generation. It is important that the Treasury stands by the government’s commitments when setting the Budget, to ensure the UK continues to decarbonise cost-effectively and deliver the clean growth we need to meet our climate targets.”

View the research: Carbon Pricing Options to Deliver Clean Growth

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, comments on ippr North energy report

“The north is ideally placed to take advantage of the opportunities a lower carbon economy creates for clean growth – playing a vital role in helping the UK and the world to meet its climate targets.

“Over a decade ago, Drax started its journey to phase out coal. We are now by far the biggest renewable power producer in the UK, having converted two-thirds of our generating units to use sustainable biomass instead of coal. We have also reskilled our colleagues to use a renewable fuel and play an active role in the low carbon transition.

“We’re exploring new carbon capture technologies which could enable us to further decarbonise and deliver negative carbon emissions – vital if we are to meet the climate challenge set out by the IPCC.

“We plan to complete the phase out of coal well ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline but we will still provide flexible, dependable electricity by repowering our remaining two coal units to use natural gas – providing highly efficient, flexible power when it is most needed.

“This will not only help support the power grid as it transitions to a low carbon system, it will also preserve the life of the plant and help protect jobs.”

View research: Risk or Reward? Securing a just transition in the North of England ippr North websiteon the

Drax Group B2B power suppliers set new record for businesses using 100% renewable power

This is a new record number of UK business sites to receive certified 100% renewable power – making Opus Energy and Haven Power collectively the largest suppliers of renewable energy to UK businesses.

Jonathan Kini, CEO of Drax Group’s retail businesses, says power suppliers have a responsibility to encourage and support businesses to be more sustainable and enable the UK to achieve the clean growth needed to meet our climate targets.

A recent Haven Power survey found 59% per cent of businesses think renewable energy is key to a cleaner future, but 80% expect suppliers to take the lead in educating them about their renewable energy options.

Jonathan Kini said:

“Every business is different, but it seems most want to be more sustainable and play a part in reaching our climate targets – they just need us, the suppliers, to help them achieve these aspirations.

“By making renewable electricity the standard, businesses become instantly a lot more sustainable, which allows us to move the conversation with our customers on to talking about other steps they can take, such as reducing their energy consumption, generating their own renewable power or even using batteries.

“Opus Energy has more than 2,200 SMEs which are already generating their own renewable power – so the appetite for more sustainability is definitely there.

“Green GB Week and the tenth anniversary of the Climate Change Act is an ideal time for businesses to celebrate how far we have come in the last decade, and also to look ahead to what we still need to do to achieve our ambitions.”

-ENDS-

Media contact

Filipe Lima at FOCUS
020 3117 1800
[email protected]

Editor’s Notes

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. For more information, visit www.drax.com/uk

About our retail businesses

Haven Power is one of the largest business electricity suppliers in the UK and was awarded the title Supplier of the Year at the Energy Awards in 2014 and 2016. Haven Power offers 100% reliable, cost effective renewable energy and services that help customers use energy more efficiently, control their spend and manage risk. For more information, visit www.havenpower.com

Opus Energy is the UK’s sixth biggest business energy supplier, supplying electricity and gas to more than 340,000 business locations across the UK. Opus Energy is a multi-award winning business, with recent highlights including being named ‘Utilities Provider of the Year’ at the 2017 British Small Business Awards and a finalist at the 2017 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards. For more information, visit www.opusenergy.com

Examination Process Starts

The hearings, which will be held whenever possible at the Village Hotel in Swansea, are open to the public, and will be attended by Abergelli Power, the City and County of Swansea Council, Natural Resources Wales and other registered parties.

Anyone is welcome to attend and view the proceedings, regardless of whether they have previously participated in the Examination. If you wish to attend and speak at hearings, you should notify the Planning Inspectorate in advance, by the deadline specified in the Examining Authority’s letter. If a person has not registered as an Interested Party and wishes to speak at the hearing, it is at the discretion of the Examining Authority whether or not to allow this. Details of the examination process (including dates of future meetings) can be found via the Planning Inspectorate’s website or by contacting the Planning Inspectorate case team on 0303 444 5000.

At Wednesday’s preliminary meeting, the Planning Inspector outlined the process that he will follow over the coming months. At the end of the examination period, the Inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, as to whether or not the Project should proceed, with the final decision on whether a Development Consent Order should be granted resting with the Secretary of State. A decision could be expected in the Q3 2019.