Archives: Press Release

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’.

Public exhibitions about Drax Repower held, consultation period remains open until 27th February

The final public exhibitions about the Drax Repower project were held last week in Selby and Hemingbrough but people still have until 27th February to consider the Project’s Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) and share their feedback with Drax.

Over the past fortnight, five exhibitions have been held in the local area. The project team has also recently met Selby District councillors and representatives of the parish councils that are local to Drax Power Station.

The public exhibitions explained the main elements of the Repower project, the need for it to be built, the main points from the PEIR and the various studies that Drax and its project team has undertaken over recent months.  The exhibitions also showed visitors what the Repower project could look like from different viewpoints, including two possible routes for the c. 3km underground pipeline that would connect the power station to the national gas grid.  135 people visited the exhibitions and spoke with members of the project team.

The exhibition boards, alongside a leaflet about the Project scheme, the PEIR, a Project Overview document and the Project’s Statement of Community Consultation can be found in the document section of our website. The suite of documents can also be viewed at Access Selby, County Hall in Northallerton and East Riding of Yorkshire’s Customer Service Centre in Beverley.  The libraries in Selby, Snaith and Goole also host these documents.

Gathering local feedback to the Repower Project is an important part of the planning process, and people have until 5.00pm on February 27th to provide their feedback. They can do this via the project website, by email to [email protected] or by writing to us at FREEPOST DRAX REPOWER.

Whilst the statutory period of consultation remains open till the end of this month, the Project team is continuing its engineering and environmental studies.  The team will also consider the feedback that it receives from local people, local councils and various other organisations. The feedback will help inform the final designs of the project.

Currently, Drax is aiming to finalise and submit its application to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy within the next 3-4 months.  A final decision from the Secretary of State, after an independent examination period, could be expected in the second half of 2019.

We will issue Information Updates as the project moves forward.

Drax Power CEO Andy Koss responds to Skipton to Colne rail route announcement

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said:

“Re-opening the Skipton to Colne route to rail freight as well as passenger travel would have a significant impact for business across the North of England, slashing travel times and increasing productivity in the process.

“It will have a direct impact on improving our supply chain at Drax, allowing freight trains to travel much more quickly to the power station in North Yorkshire – reducing journey times from the Port of Liverpool to less than three hours, a journey which can take up to nine hours at the moment.

“As a nation we can benefit from a fast, efficient railway that allows more free movement of goods between manufacturers, their distribution hubs and their markets across the north of England and beyond.”