Archives: Press Release

Planning Inspector’s examination process starts

The hearings, which will be held whenever possible at the Marston Vale Forest Centre, are open to the public, and will be attended by Millbrook Power, Central Bedfordshire Council, Bedford Borough Council, local parish councils and other registered parties. 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 yesterday’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 early part of 2019.

We stand on the precipice of an electric revolution – Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner’s speech to the British Chambers of Commerce

Good morning everyone.

I would like to begin by thanking the British Chambers of Commerce for inviting me to speak today.

Adam Marshall and his team at the BCC do so much to represent British business – and events like this one today help bring together business leaders from across the country to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing UK plc.

Having been with Drax for two years as CFO, I became the Group’s CEO at the start of this year. In a few short weeks, I went from navigating the company’s finances to being captain of the ship.

Drax is a company that has gone through fundamental transformation. A transformation that is unprecedented for a company so critical to the UK’s infrastructure.

Almost 50 years ago, Drax began generating electricity from its power station in Selby, Yorkshire.

It provided more than enough electricity to power all the homes in London twice over – helping to power a resurgence in industrial output and an explosion in demand from consumers for white goods.

For three decades, the company continued in the same vein. Burning coal to power the country’s seemingly insatiable demand for electricity.

But as the world welcomed in the new millennium, everything changed.

Simmering and justifiable disquiet about the impact of fossil fuels on the environment gathered momentum and reached a nadir, resulting in climate change rising up the political agenda – both in the UK and internationally.

It sounded the death knell for Old King Coal and ushered in a wave of new, low carbon, renewable power generators.

Rather than trying to hold back the tide – and with the support of Government – Drax reinvented itself – and set about changing the UK’s energy landscape in the process.

Out went our dependence on coal and in came biomass – sustainable and renewable wood pellets that emit 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions than its predecessor.

Drax went from being the UK’s largest polluter to the largest single site renewable power generator in the country.

But from supporting a renaissance in the industrial revolution, we now stand on the precipice of a wholly-different revolution: an electric revolution.

And, more specifically, a people and business-powered renewable electric revolution.

A revolution that won’t seem so revolutionary to my daughter and her peers in 2035, as electric vehicles cruise clean streets without the need for a driver and our household appliances are all connected and communicate with one another.

A revolution that will see the electrification of transport and heating. Where, at a larger scale, the introduction of artificial intelligence will allow the entire grid to connect and work in harmony with every one of the billions of devices taking energy from it.

A revolution that will not be driven solely by large-scale power generators, but by ‘prosumers’ – individuals, businesses and institutions that not only consume electricity, but produce it too.

Spurred by falling costs that will make technologies like rooftop solar panels and domestic battery storage more affordable, prosumers will change the dynamic between energy suppliers and energy users for good.

From disengaged to engaged. From passive to active. From consumers to producers.

Prosumers want a reliable and flexible self-supply of energy – and to call upon a mix of renewable technologies, just as the national system does.

They want – and will have – the capacity to generate their own energy via a mix of solar, wind and biomass and then, crucially, sell back their excess electricity to an energy supplier.

In fact, new measures have already been put in place to encourage people to generate their own electricity.

These will make it easier for prosumers to generate, store and sell back their power to the Grid – something Ofgem estimates could save consumers up to £40 billion by 2050.

But what could this mean for the business of electricity?

Some, including National Grid, suggest multiple ‘commercial models’ will operate together to facilitate a decentralised, prosumer-based energy system.

These would include homes and businesses that wholly own their energy systems, as well as systems owned and operated by third parties, such as aggregators managing energy or solar-rental schemes.

This isn’t tomorrow’s world: it’s today’s.

Similar schemes are already in place in both the business and consumer retail markets.

Last year, for example, Opus Energy – a Drax Group company supplying energy to UK businesses – bought almost one terawatt of power from more than 2,000 small renewable generators.

These businesses use technologies such as solar, onshore wind and hydro. Opus Energy then sells that power onto its predominantly small business customer base.

And it’s here where perhaps the success or otherwise of the electric revolution will be determined.

Most business owners are extremely time poor with a very broad range of responsibilities – all of them pressing.

Although important, especially if they want it to be renewable, energy supply is unlikely to get much of their attention.

Far too frequently, energy is just confusing and unnecessarily complex.

The agenda is set by the supplier; seldom by the customer.

For the most part, businesses just want an energy supplier that can satisfy their particular energy needs and preferences simply, intelligently and accurately.

That’s why we want our customers to be able to make better and more informed choices.

Not only because that’s what they want, but also because it means renewable power and the way it is used will become a real part of the UK’s energy future.

But why does this make sense?

Well, think of your rubbish. Or rather, think back to your rubbish a decade ago.

Ten years ago everything – paper, plastic or glass – ended up in one bin and it all went to the same place.

Until, that is, people realised that to make daily recycling a more realistic proposition, it needed to be simple and easy. So, councils set about providing better facilities and services from bins to collection.

Now, when we throw away our rubbish, we sort it and separate it. What once seemed too difficult and over-complicated isn’t any more.

Now recycling and its contribution to greater sustainability is second nature.

We believe there needs to be a similar approach and attitude in energy supply.

Of course, all energy supply should be easy and straightforward – especially renewable energy. It might have been difficult and complicated in the past but it certainly isn’t now.

So perhaps the biggest barrier to large-scale adoption of prosumerism is technology.

Although research and innovation pounds, dollars and euros have been pouring into the technologies that make decentralised power generation possible, there are still developments to be made.

Solar is one of the most prominently used renewables by prosumers thanks to the relative affordability of rooftop solar systems.

Even home-interior giant IKEA now offers solar panels and battery systems through a partnership with the UK’s largest solar company, Solarcentury.

But like wind turbines, which are a more cost-prohibitive solution, solar is an intermittent energy source, which means domestic users may still need to access the grid to fill gaps in their own generation.

That is unless battery technology advances to a point where it can store enough solar – or wind-generated electricity to fully power homes and businesses affordably – all-year round, including in the dark, still days of midwinter.

Along with small scale generators, large-scale power producers have a crucial role to play here.

If we can store renewable electricity from intermittent sources when they are able to generate, it could then be utilised at times when they’re not.

But the race to develop it is well under way, and several companies are working on building ever bigger, more efficient electricity storage methods.

And Drax is at the front of this race.

We’re planning to develop two giant 100 megawatt batteries at our site in Selby.

These batteries would store electricity to enable our proposed gas-fired power generation to ramp up faster when needed – making our power station purpose-built for a more flexible future.

Together, they would be the largest batteries of their kind anywhere in the world.

But whether it be batteries or biomass; solar or electricity supply, what all parties need is certainty.

Like all large-scale energy producers, we need certainty of long-term policy to enable us to make investment decisions.

Investment decisions that will bring forward projects to make the electric revolution a reality.

And businesses looking to invest in renewable technologies need certainty to ensure their long-term investments will be economically viable.

The certainty Government provided energy suppliers more than a decade ago brought forward unprecedented investment in renewable power generation.

Investment that not only is helping to decarbonise the country’s energy supply, but has also created thousands of new jobs and empowered supply chains up and down the country.

Suppliers – and Drax included – also need certainty to help support small businesses to realise the full benefit of the electric revolution.

We must work harder to make systems easy to use and manage. We must create attractive tariffs and we must provide a service that gives peace of mind.

I am committed to doing all of this – because it makes sense for all of us.

But I am not just committed to changing what we do, but also how we do it. And I have spent much of my first two months as CEO looking at this.

A more diverse workforce is a stronger workforce. If Drax is to achieve what we’ve set out to achieve, we need to embrace this – because, quite simply, what we’ve been doing so far has not been good enough.

Without doubt, the energy sector as a whole must do more to attract women into the industry. But, speaking personally, I am committed to taking a lead and changing Drax’s practices, policies and culture to ensure we are an employer of choice for women who see their future in energy.

As I stand here today, I can reflect proudly on Drax’s transformation. But I hope that my successors will reflect more proudly on the role they played to transform the entire energy sector.

Not just for Drax, but for you too – the businesses that really power UK plc.

Thank you.

Britain now produces enough renewable electricity to power the entire country 60 years ago

  • Britain’s renewable output grew 27% last year to 96 TWh

  • 92% of electricity came from coal in 1958, compared with just 7% in 2017

  • 50% of power generation in 2017 came from low carbon sources

The renewable electricity produced in 2017 could have powered the whole of Britain in 1958 – the year that brought us Blue Peter, the Hula Hoop and Paddington Bear.

60 years ago, 52 million Brits used 91 TWh of electricity – all of which could have been powered by the 96 TWh of renewable electricity produced last year, according to the latest Electric Insights report, published by researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax.

The report also showed that half of Britain’s electricity come from low-carbon sources in 2017, coal and gas output fell by a tenth and wind farms posted a record year.

Carbon emissions from electricity consumption fell 12% last year, a saving which amounts to taking one in seven of Britain’s cars off the road.

Of all grid electricity supplied last year, 25% came from biomass, hydro, wind and solar. Wind generation was the major factor in helping to increase Britain’s renewable output –  it produced 15% of the country’s electricity, up from 10% in 2016 and more than twice the output of coal. Wind generation grew 45% between 2016 and 2017 and higher wind speeds and the completion of several onshore and offshore wind farms contributed to record-breaking wind output over the year.

Electrical appliances, which typically make up 25% of domestic demand, were considered luxury items in 1958, when a washing machine cost around £60. This was a big outlay considering that the average salary was £569 and the average family home cost £2,253.

Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial College London explained:

“Generation from coal continues to fall and is now the preserve of colder months as opposed to being the mainstay of generation as it was in 1958.

“60 years ago, the power system emitted 93 million tonnes of CO2; in 2017 renewables managed to produce the same amount of electricity by emitting just three million tonnes. The share of fossil fuels on the system has fallen from 80% to 50% since 2010 and the effect that shift in the balance of power is having in terms of lowering our carbon emissions is striking.”

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO said:

“This report shows the great progress we have made in terms of decarbonising the energy sector. We can expect more days without coal on the system as we gear up to the UK coming off coal in 2025 and we are proud of the work that we have done to support this as the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.

“As the share of fossil fuels falls and more intermittent renewables come onto the system, we need to think about how we maintain stable, secure power supplies. Flexible, responsive technologies such as biomass help to support and balance the grid as more renewables come on to the system.”

Drax has upgraded half of its power station in North Yorkshire from coal to use sustainable biomass, with plans to convert a further generating unit this year. It is now the biggest single site renewable generator in the UK and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.



Media contacts:

Ali Lewis

Drax Group Head of News

E: [email protected]

T: 01757 612165


Jessica Gorton

Drax Group Press Officer

E: [email protected]

T: 07712 677177


Editor’s notes 

Milestone moments in 1958:

  • Instant noodles were available in shops for the first time
  • Sputnik Satellite 1 fell from orbit and satelites 2 and 3 were launched by the Soviet Union
  • Blue Peter was first broadcast on the 16th of October
  • The Hula Hoop toy was created
  • Paddington Bear is given his first outing in ‘A Bear Called Paddington’ by Michael Bond.
  • The Beatles did their first studio recording session. They were still known as ‘The Quarrymen’
  • A host of famous faces were born, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Sharon Stone, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Bacon, Tim Burton, Andie McDowell, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter Capaldi, Ellen DeGeneres and Kate Bush.
  • The United Kingdom’s first ever motorway, the Preston Bypass, was opened (the Bypass is now part of the M6 and M55 Motorways)
  • The Pizza Hut chain of restaurants was founded in Wichita, Kansas
  • The European Economic Community was established 

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, and Dr Rob Gross who contributed expertise in energy policy. The work to date has revealed scope for further research in this area, to inform both government and organisations within the energy industry.
  • The Q4 2017 report has an additional co-author: Luke Clark, Renewable UK.
  • The quarterly reports are backed by an interactive website which provides live data from 2009 until the present.

Brothers claim top prizes at apprenticeship awards

It was a night of sibling success at the Drax Power 2018 Apprenticeship Awards, with brothers James and Lewis Marran scooping three of the top five accolades at the ceremony.

James, aged 23, won 4th Year Apprentice of the Year in his role as an Electrical Craftsperson Apprentice at Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire. Younger brother Lewis, 19, was awarded Business Apprentice of the Year for his work as a procurement and business support apprentice.

In addition to being crowned 4th Year Apprentice of the Year, James also won the newly-created Paul Chambers Overall Outstanding Achievement Award.

The brothers from Doncaster both impressed the judges, who described Lewis as ‘a great role model for other Business Apprentices’ and James as ‘one of the most competent apprentices of recent times with the potential to develop into one of Drax’s best craftspeople’.

James said: “Completing my apprenticeship is one of my greatest achievements and be rewarded further as an outstanding apprentice was an even greater one.

“It was an honor to have worked alongside Paul Chambers and so I’m incredibly proud to receive the Paul Chambers Overall Outstanding Achievement Award”.

Lewis added: “Drax has offered me a brilliant grounding as an apprentice, allowing me to develop new skills and abilities which has led to a successful appointment within the Procurement team. To be the recipient of this award is most rewarding and I consider this as an excellent achievement, in what I hope is a long and prosperous career at Drax”.

The Year 2 Apprentice of the Year was 21-year-old Josh O’Rourke, 21, from Goole, who works as an Electrical Technical Apprentice. Judges described Josh as ‘mature, with a real focus and a drive to succeed.’

Year 3 winner, Daniel Riley, 19, also from Goole was praised for the ‘quality and accuracy of his work’ and his ‘positive response to instruction and quick learning’ in his position as a Mechanical Technical Apprentice.

The awards were presented to the winners by BBC Look North presenter Clare Frisby and Drax Power CEO Andy Koss, at a ceremony at Drax Sports and Social Club, near Selby.

Clare Frisby added: “It was a real pleasure to play a part in recognising the talent, skill and determination of all of the apprentices – it was a very inspiring event. Well done to everyone involved – but especially the winners, and James in particular.”

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “James, Lewis, Daniel and Josh have all excelled – demonstrating enthusiasm, drive, positivity and professionalism in every aspect of their work as apprentices.

“Special congratulations go to James as the winner of the Paul Chambers Award – he has consistently received outstanding feedback about his work and I know he will go on to make a brilliant craftsperson.”

Drax will be offering apprenticeships over the course of the year in business support areas, such as finance and business administration. Technical Apprenticeship applications are closed for 2018. All opportunities are advertised online.

More information about apprenticeships at Drax is available on the website.

Northern Powerhouse Minister and Selby MP visit Drax to find out more about Drax Repower

The plans would complement Drax’s existing coal-to-biomass conversion which has seen three units repowered to run on sustainable biomass pellets, with a fourth biomass conversion to follow this year.

If the Drax Repower plans go ahead in their entirety, the development would include two combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) with a combined capacity of up to 3,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity as well as battery storage of up to 200MW.

Andy Koss, Drax power CEO said, “We were delighted to welcome Nigel Adams and Jake Berry to Drax. Our repowering project represents a really exciting time for us; the options we’re exploring could reuse some of the existing infrastructure from the remaining coal assets at Drax and extend their operation as gas plant into the 2030s.

“We hope the Repower project will secure the future of the power station beyond 2025 when the government says coal must come off the system. The North of England has a rich heritage in providing energy to the rest of the UK and Drax has an important role to play in delivering a low carbon economy as the UK comes off coal.”

Drax Power Station employs around 900 people and generated 16% of the country’s renewable electricity in 2016 – enough for four million households, the equivalent of Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, added, “Drax plays a hugely important role in the northern economy and it’s truly impressive how it has continued to innovate in recent years to move away from coal power. I enjoyed learning more about Drax’s gas conversion project and its wider plans to support Britain’s transition to a low carbon future based on an electric economy.”

Nigel Adams, Member of Parliament for Selby & Ainsty, said, “Thousands of jobs in Selby and across Yorkshire directly or indirectly rely on Drax Power Station. Drax’s proposal to convert its remaining coal units to gas to extend the life of the power station comes as welcome news at a time when other power stations in my constituency are closing their doors, with significant consequences for the employees working there.”

Drax Group contributed almost £1.7 billion towards UK GDP in 2016 and supported thousands of jobs across the country, including £577m across the North of England – Yorkshire and Humber, North West, and North East, termed as the ‘Northern Powerhouse Region’.