Archives: Press Release

York pupils ride into first place in £10,000 schools STEM challenge

An idea to generate renewable electricity for use in a York school while also establishing zero carbon transport between its two sites has won first place in a regional competition sponsored by Drax Power, with a total prize fund of £10,000.

The Project Reinvent Challenge invited pupils across Yorkshire, aged 11-19 to use their learning and knowledge in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to develop a workable idea to help improve life in their community.

A team of five Year 7 pupils from All Saints School in York impressed judges with their entry ‘Dynamo’, which plans to create a free cycle hub providing 40 bikes for teachers, pupils and visitors to travel the half mile between the school’s two campuses.

Each bike will be fitted with a ‘bottle’ dynamo which allows energy generated from cycling to be stored. The dynamos are then hooked up to transfer the stored energy to batteries which will be connected into the school’s electricity distribution network.

Drax awarded the winning idea £6,000 to help it get started, with the remaining prize fund being split between the runners up.

All Saints teacher Sarah Bilton said: “This is a fantastic achievement. We’re very proud of our pupils and the hard work, thought and determination they have shown.”

She added: “This challenge really got pupils thinking and was a great opportunity to help their understanding of enterprise and investigate eco-friendly ways to benefit the community.

“Lots of people drive between the sites, or of course have to walk. This will simplify and speed up getting from one side of the school to the other, and in a way that’s better for the environment. It will be useful to the whole school community; I can’t think why someone hadn’t thought of this before!”

Drax Visitor Centre manager and member of the judging panel, Rachael Baldwin said: “All four finalists presented well thought out, creative ideas, but the Dynamo team really impressed us with the technical thinking behind their project as well as coming up with an idea that would benefit their school and local community.”

The team was presented with a trophy by Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO.

He said: “It’s been tremendously rewarding to see young people harness their imagination and STEM learning to find new ways to support their local communities.

“The diverse range of ideas we have seen and presented by the competition finalists shows there is plenty of innovation within schools and colleges across Yorkshire. We hope this will inspire these students to pursue careers using STEM subjects.”

The runners-up were Barlby High School, near Selby with their idea for a ‘Learning Garden’ based around science; Nidderdale High School in Pateley Bridge with designs for ‘3 Peaks’, a new climbing wall; and Scarborough University Technical College with its ‘Life Skills Centre’ to support STEM knowledge in adult learning.

The Project Reinvent Challenge was supported by the North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership (NYBEP), a social enterprise based in York that specialises in engaging employers with education to help young people prepare for the workplace.

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Media contacts:

Ali Lewis

Drax Group Head of Media Relations

E: [email protected]

T: 01757 612165

Jessica Gorton

Drax Group Press Officer

E: [email protected]

T: 01757 612848

About Project Reinvent Challenge

 The Project Reinvent Challenge is part of Drax’s community investment plan ‘Project Reinvent’ – a programme of activity supporting schools and local projects. Inspired by the company’s own reinvention from a traditional coal-fired power station into a reliable new source of renewable energy, the programme aims to bring new energy to the people and organisations that can change the local area for good.

A total of 50 schools across Yorkshire entered the challenge. The finalists were selected at Inspirations 2017, an annual event billed as the biggest celebration of STEM education and held at Yorkshire Air Museum in June. Teams then had to present their ideas to a panel of judges at the grand final held in the Visitor Centre at Drax power station.

About Drax Group

Drax Group plc plays a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future. Drax operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies 7 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.  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 Biomass, based in the US and manufactures compressed wood pellets produced from sustainably managed working forests.

Haven Power, based in Ipswich, providing businesses with electricity.

Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, providing electricity and gas to businesses.

Billington Bioenergy, based in Liverpool with depots across the UK, is one of the leading distributors of wood pellets for sustainable heating in the UK.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

About NYBEP 

NYBEP is a not-for-profit social enterprise that has specialised in engaging employers in education for over 20 years. NYBEP is aimed at helping young people to acquire the skills and knowledge that prepare them for the workplace and inspire them to plan for and achieve a successful future.

Drax meets community representatives in Eye

Several members of Drax’s project team attended the meeting including Andy Koss, the CEO of its generation business, Drax Power.

The meeting was an opportunity for Drax to explain its business operations in the UK and talk through its reasons for acquiring the Progress scheme. This includes the strategic need for rapid response gas power generation developments within Britain’s power system. The potential timeframe for the construction and operation of the power station were also discussed.  If Drax secures a Capacity Market contract in the early part of next year (2018), construction of the Progress scheme (the power generation plant, the underground gas pipeline, the underground electrical connection and the sub-station) would start later in the year and expect to be completed by 2020/21.

Councillors from Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council attended the meeting, along with councillors representing Eye Town Council and parish councils in the vicinity of the site.  They, along with local landowners who were also present, raised a number of questions about the status and future of the project, which are summarised in a meeting note on this website along with the presentation given at the event itself. Some additional pre-works photos were shared following the meeting.

Drax employees highlighted that the power station would have a single turbine with a single 35m-high stack. The sub-station building associated with the project is likely to be 30-40% smaller than was originally envisaged based on on-going discussions with National Grid. In addition, there was a discussion about Drax’s proposals to establish a Community Benefit Fund for the area surrounding the project; attendees were keen to see the Fund supporting local community initiatives.

It was agreed that another local liaison meeting would be arranged once National Grid had prepared its proposed design and layout of the sub-station; the meeting is likely to take place later this year.

The following day (July 4th), Drax met with officials from Suffolk County Council to discuss the project and provide feedback from the community event the night before. Officials from the authority agreed to provide an update to councillors on the points discussed during that meeting and the process for discharging all planning obligations related to the project going forward.

Parkinson Lane Primary are 2017 Drax Cup champions

Pupils from Parkinson Lane Primary School in Halifax have been crowned the 2017 Drax Cup Champions.

The team lifted the trophy in the finals of the biggest under 9s cricket competition in the country after beating Driffield Junior School 150-141 at Headingley.

They were among four regional winners competing for the Drax Cup at the world famous ground in Leeds watched by their families, fellow pupils and teachers.

In the semi-finals Parkinson Lane, who made it to the finals for the first time this year, won a close game against Greenhill Primary from Sheffield, cup holders in 2015 and playing at Headingley for the third year in succession, by four runs (149-145). Driffield overcame Acklam Whin Primary from Middlesbrough 187-165.

Losing in the final meant continued heartbreak for Driffield, who have now finished runners-up three times having appeared at Headingley five times since 2012.

The Drax Cup and medals were presented on the pitch by Yorkshire all-rounder Will Rhodes, an ambassador for the competition. The teams and supporters then settled down to watch their cricketing heroes play in the Yorkshire Vikings v Nottinghamshire Outlaws NatWest T20 Blast.

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “This was the eleventh year of the Drax Cup and we are delighted that once again thousands of children across the region have been able to enjoy the thrill of competitive cricket.

“With Yorkshire’s Joe Root leading England to victory in his first Test as captain and Katherine Brunt bowling brilliantly in the Women’s Cricket World Cup, perhaps some of the players this year will follow in their footsteps!”

The Drax Cup is sponsored by Drax and organised by The Yorkshire County Cricket Club in conjunction with The Yorkshire Cricket Board, The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and The Yorkshire Schools’ Cricket Association. It is open to primary schools throughout Yorkshire and Teesside.

The competition began after the Easter holidays and ran throughout the summer term with a series of festival and school partnership events and area finals. Established in 2007, participation has increased year on year with 650 schools taking part in 2017.

 

Editor’s notes

  1. The Drax Cup is open to schools from across Yorkshire and Teesside, and is played by Years 3/4 (ages 7-9). The competition aims to introduce children to cricket in a fun way and each team must contain a minimum of two girls.

 

  1. 2017 finalists: Acklam Whin Primary, Middlesbrough (north area), Parkinson Lane Primary, Halifax (west area), Driffield Junior School, Driffield (east area) and Greenhill Primary, Sheffield (south area).

 

  1. Drax Cup ambassadors have included England fast bowler Katherine Brunt, former Yorkshire Captain and now First VI team coach Andrew Gale, Yorkshire and former England fast-bowler Ryan Sidebottom and Yorkshire all-rounder and former under 21s England captain, Will Rhodes

 

  1. Under 9s cricket is played with a softball and uses Kwik Cricket Equipment bats and stumps. It is an 8-a-side pairs game with each innings of 16 overs played on a wicket 17 yards long and the boundary set at a maximum 25 yards.

 

Media Contacts

Jess Gorton
Drax
01757 612 848
[email protected]

Millbrook Power shares its plans with local communities

  • Public exhibitions held 9th to 13th June
  • Statutory public  consultation runs until 2nd July  

People took the opportunity to learn more and offer comment about the Project, as well as meet members of the Millbrook Power team and representatives of Drax Group, the owners of the Millbrook Power Project.  Among those who visited the exhibitions were councillors from Central Bedfordshire Council and local parish councils.

At the four exhibitions, Millbrook Power displayed images of the Project from different viewpoints in the area, and highlighted the main findings of its Preliminary Environmental Information Report.

Once the period of statutory consultation ends on 2nd July, Millbrook Power will consider the feedback that it has received at the exhibitions and received via email/post and phone, will finalise its environmental and technical studies and will continue to work closely with Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils. Millbrook will also keep local parish councils and other relevant parties in the near vicinity of the project site fully informed.

Details of the project, the exhibitions and the period of consultation were published in a leaflet mailed to 13,500 homes and businesses in the area, and were featured in the local press, and on radio and TV.  In addition, posters about the exhibitions were displayed in the area, in local parish newsletters and on social media.

Millbrook Power is aiming to submit its application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate before the end of this year. Subject to the outcome of the consenting and financing processes, the Project could enter commercial operation in 2022.

Carlton pupils attend pop-up Drax virtual tour

Schoolchildren at a North Yorkshire primary school today (Tuesday 13 June)  experienced a unique new ‘pop up’ planetarium developed by Drax to support STEM learning – science, technology, engineering and maths – in the curriculum.

The mobile cinema is housed inside an inflatable replica of the giant biomass storage domes at Drax Power Station, near Selby. A state-of-the-art internal projection displays a specially-produced 360-degree film onto the dome walls and ceiling to give the audience a planetarium-style virtual tour of the entire site and its operations with an accompanying informative voice-over.

The video shows how Drax has upgraded half the power station to run on sustainable biomass in place of coal to become the UK’s biggest single site renewable energy generator. Drax now produces 16% of the UK’s renewable electricity – enough to power four million UK households.

Drax has a long tradition of supporting education and helping children in their science and engineering studies with many schools taking part in tours of the power station to help inspire the next generation of engineers. The company recently launched ‘Project Reinvent’ – a secondary schools’ challenge using STEM learning to develop an idea to improve their local community.

Drax Power chief executive Andy Koss said: “At Drax, we are helping to find and inspire the engineers of the future by encouraging greater interest in STEM subjects. As well as inviting schools to the power station to show pupils how energy is generated here, we are now bringing the power station to schools. This new, innovative dome means we can reach and inspire more children, giving them a unique, interactive insight into how we generate renewable electricity.”

A team from the visitor centre at Drax transported the dome to the primary school, where it was inflated and set up within the school grounds.

The idea for the project came from Drax visitor centre manager Rachael Baldwin who wanted an innovative new way to take the Drax experience further afield and reach even more school children. She explained: “Drax welcomes thousands of pupils from across our region to discover the sights and sounds of the power station for themselves. We believe this latest innovation in our visitor experience will become an equally engaging and exciting way to share what we do with those schools unable to come to us.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to create real ‘wow factor’ for the children,” she added. “We hope to reach 25,000 school pupils with the dome this year.”

Carlton-in-Snaith Primary School headteacher, Jon Watson said: “The children were really looking forward to the visit by Drax and are excited to be the first school pupils to try out the new dome cinema. Our Year 5 and 6 pupils are currently learning about electricity generation and the environment and the experience was invaluable in terms of bringing the subject to life.”

The 15ft high and 23ft wide (4.5m x 7m) dome can accommodate around 30 pupils at a time.

The immersive 360-degree video experience was designed and created by PEEL Interactive, based in Skipton. It uses a combination of animation, highly detailed and interactive 3D models and dramatic aerial footage to show how electricity is made using sustainable, compressed wood pellets, which have now completely replaced coal in half of Drax’s generating units to achieve carbon savings of over 80 percent.

The film shows how the pellets are formed from low-value material including thinnings – small trees that have been removed from working forests to maximise the growth of the remaining trees – tree tops, sawmill residues and other leftovers from the commercial management of timber supplies produced for other industries.

The Drax guides who will present the video to the schools also use fun props to encourage discussion around sustainable energy generation and use.

The tour is free to all primary and secondary schools and content from the video can be adapted to fit the curriculum and assist teachers in delivering an engaging learning experience.

“We’re sure pupils will love the whole cinema experience of learning,” said Rachael Baldwin. “Our guides really bring to life what happens at Drax, and for the children it’s just as if they too were here at the power station. We are looking forward to taking our virtual tour to schools across the north and even further afield.”

Any schools interested in booking a dome visit should contact [email protected].

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Media contact

Imagen PR

Richard Harrison/ Sarah Harrison

01423 790 453/ 452

[email protected]

On the day: Mobile: 07786 981 258 (Richard) 07979 691 521 (Sarah)


About Drax

Drax Group plc plays a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future. Drax operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies 7 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.  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 Biomass, based in the US and manufactures compressed wood pellets produced from sustainably managed working forests.

Haven Power, based in Ipswich, providing businesses with electricity.

Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, providing electricity and gas to businesses.

Billington Bioenergy, based in Liverpool with depots across the UK, is one of the leading distributors of wood pellets for sustainable heating in the UK.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

New images of Millbrook Power project available as part of statutory consultation

  • Public exhibitions taking place from Friday June 9 to Monday June 13
  • Images showing the development from different local viewpoints will be on show at the exhibitions
  • Local people encouraged to attend and have their say during the public consultation

People living and working in the area near the villages of Stewartby and Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire are encouraged to attend the exhibitions where they will be able to meet the team behind Millbrook Power’s proposals, find out more about the plans and give their views.

The proposals for a rapid response gas-fired power station at the site in Bedfordshire could see millions of pounds invested in the local economy. The Millbrook Power project will support around 150 jobs during construction and create a number of full-time, skilled jobs when operational as well as procuring goods and services from the local area.

The rapid response gas power station will not be running all the time. Instead it will be used to provide system support, firing up quickly at times when the country’s need for electricity is greatest. This includes at times of system stress, to plug the gaps when sufficient intermittent renewable power isn’t available, such as when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

The project team behind Millbrook Power, which is owned by Drax Group, would like to hear people’s views on the project and the findings of its Preliminary Environmental Information Report.

David Ball, the Millbrook Power project director from Drax Group, said: “The images have been created as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, to help everyone understand exactly what it is we’re proposing to develop at the Rookery Pit site and encourage them to attend the consultation exhibition events.

“Many in the area are already aware of our project, as it was first announced in 2014, but the public consultation now underway is an important part of the development process.

“We want people, in particular those who have moved into the area over the past two to three years, to be fully aware of the revised plans and the efforts we have made to minimise the project’s impact on the local environment, both during its construction and operation.”

The proposals include:

  • An underground electricity connection, avoiding the need for additional overhead lines and transmission towers.
  • A single generating turbine, which requires one 35m high chimney stack, instead of the five turbines and stacks 40m high, previously considered.

Millbrook Power, is hosting the public exhibitions about its plans in Marston Moretaine, Stewartby, Ampthill and Lidlington from June 9 to 13, as part of a 35-day period of statutory public consultation.

People living within 5km of the site should have received a leaflet about the project and the consultation period, with a freepost feedback form to provide comments.

Subject to public consultation and planning consent, the power station at Rookery South Pit could be operational in 2022.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Millbrook Power is the development company solely focused on taking forward the project at Rookery South Pit; it has been owned by Drax Group (www.drax.com/uk) since December 2016. The project comprises three elements: the 299MW power generation plant, the electrical connection (including a sub-station) and the gas connection.
  2. Images are available to download showing what the site will look like, if consent for the Millbrook Power project is given.

A full suite of photomontages will be available to view at the public exhibitions. These form part of the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment, which can be downloaded from the Millbrook Power website (https://www.drax.com/uk/about-us/our-projects/millbrook-power/#documents/)

  1. The statutory public consultation period is May 29th to July 2nd, with details of the consultation being advertised in local and national newspapers. The public exhibitions are taking place at:
  • Friday, 9th June 1500-1930hrs – Marston Moretaine Village Hall, Bedford Road, Marston Moretaine, MK43 0LD
  • Saturday, 10th June 0900-1300hrs – Stewartby Club, Stewartby Way, Stewartby, MK43 9NB
  • Monday, 12th June 1600-2000hrs – Wingfield Club, 37 Church Street, Ampthill, MK45 2PL
  • Tuesday, 13th June 1230-1530hrs – Lidlington Village Hall, High Street, Lidlington, MK43 0RT
  1. Rookery South Pit is zoned for industrial/commercial use by Central Bedfordshire Council and regarded by Millbrook Power as an ideal site for a gas-fired power plant given the Pit’s proximity to the national gas and electricity transmission networks and its reduced ground levels.
  1. Given its size, the project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and so it will be examined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council are key consultees in the application process for a Development Consent Order (DCO). Millbrook Power intends to submit its DCO application to the Planning Inspectorate before the end of this year. There would likely be a formal examination period in 2018 and a final decision from the Secretary of State could be expected in 2019.
  1. The project’s Preliminary Environmental Information Report considers a range of issues including ecology, landscape and visual impacts, noise, transport and air quality and will be made available during the consultation period at local council offices and libraries. It has been published on the project’s website – https://www.drax.com/uk/about-us/our-projects/millbrook-power/#documents/. The various studies contained in the report take into account the consented energy-recovery facility, proposed nearby by Covanta and Veolia. This is due to its proximity to the proposed Millbrook Power development site only, it is otherwise an entirely separate project and not part of, or related to, the rapid response gas power station project in any other way.
  1. Millbrook Power is owned by Drax Group, which is playing a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future. Drax operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies 7 percent of the country’s electricity needs. The energy firm converted from burning coal to become a predominantly biomass-fueled electricity generator. Drax is the biggest single site renewable generator in the UK and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.  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 further information

Millbrook Power Ltd

Paul Taylor (Taylor Keogh Communications)

020 8392 8250

07966 782611

[email protected]

Millbrook Power seeks local views about power station project

  • 35-day statutory public consultation starts 29th May
  • 13,500 leaflets mailed to local homes and businesses
  • Public exhibitions to be held: 9th to 13th June

The Millbrook Power project could see millions of pounds invested in the local economy. It will support around 150 jobs during construction and create a number of full-time, skilled jobs when operational as well as procuring goods and services from the local area.

The rapid response gas power station will not be running all the time. Instead it will be used to provide system support, firing up quickly at times when the country’s need for electricity is greatest. This includes at times of system stress, to plug the gaps when sufficient intermittent renewable power isn’t available, such as when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

Millbrook Power, now owned by Drax Group, is hosting public exhibitions about its plans in Marston Moretaine, Stewartby, Ampthill and Lidlington from June 9 to 13, as part of a 35-day period of statutory public consultation.

The company would like to hear people’s views on the project and the findings of its Preliminary Environmental Information Report.

Nick Johnson, Project Manager for Millbrook Power said: “Many people in the area are aware of our project, as it was first announced in 2014, but the forthcoming period of public consultation is an important part of the development process.

“We want people, in particular those who have moved into the area over the past two to three years, to be fully aware of our revised plans and the efforts we have made to minimise the project’s impact on the local environment, both during its construction and operation.”

The proposals include:

  • An underground electricity connection, avoiding the need for additional overhead lines and transmission towers.
  • A single generating turbine, which requires one 35m high chimney stack, instead of the five turbines and stacks 40m high, previously considered.

New photomontages of the power plant from various local viewpoints will be on show at the exhibitions.

People living within 5km of the site will receive a leaflet about the project and the consultation period, with a freepost feedback form to provide comments.

Subject to public consultation and planning consent, the power station at Rookery South Pit could be operational in 2022.

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Millbrook Power is the development company solely focused on taking forward the project at Rookery South Pit; it has been owned by Drax Group (www.drax.com/uk) since December 2016. The project comprises three elements: the 299MW power generation plant, the electrical connection (including a sub-station) and the gas connection.
  2. Rookery South Pit is zoned for industrial/commercial use by Central Bedfordshire Council and regarded by Millbrook Power as an ideal site for a gas-fired power plant given the Pit’s proximity to the national gas and electricity transmission networks and its reduced ground levels.
  3. Given its size, the project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and so it will be examined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council are key consultees in the application process for a Development Consent Order (DCO). Millbrook Power intends to submit its DCO application to the Planning Inspectorate before the end of this year. There would likely be a formal examination period in 2018 and a final decision from the Secretary of State could be expected in 2019.
  4. The statutory public consultation period is May 29th to July 2nd, with details of the consultation being advertised in local and national newspapers. The public exhibitions are taking place at:
  • Friday, 9th June 1500-1930hrs – Marston Moretaine Village Hall, Bedford Road, Marston Moretaine, MK43 0LD
  • Saturday, 10th June 0900-1300hrs – Stewartby Club, Stewartby Way, Stewartby, MK43 9NB
  • Monday, 12th June 1600-2000hrs – Wingfield Club, 37 Church Street, Ampthill, MK45 2PL
  • Tuesday, 13th June 1230-1530hrs – Lidlington Village Hall, High Street, Lidlington, MK43 0RT
  1. The project’s Preliminary Environmental Information Report considers a range of issues including ecology, landscape and visual impacts, noise, transport and air quality and will be made available during the consultation period at local council offices and libraries, and on the project’s website – https://www.drax.com/uk/about-us/our-projects/millbrook-power/. The various studies contained in the report take into account the consented energy-recovery facility, proposed nearby by Covanta and Veolia.
  2. Millbrook Power is owned by Drax Group, which is playing a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future. Drax operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies 7 percent of the country’s electricity needs. The energy firm converted from burning coal to become a predominantly biomass-fueled electricity generator. Drax is the biggest single site renewable generator in the UK and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.  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 further information

Millbrook Power Ltd

Paul Taylor (Taylor Keogh Communications): 020 8392 8250/ 07966 782611/ [email protected] 

Seasonal deployment – powering the clean energy revolution whatever the weather

Britain’s electricity system has undergone such radical changes that carbon emissions from the sector are now so low the ‘dirtiest’ hour of generation is cleaner than the average hour from just a few years ago.

The latest Electric Insights report, produced by researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax, analysed data from January to March 2017.  It reveals the dirtiest hour for generation during this winter period was at 8.30pm on the 16th January.

On that cold and calm winter evening 424 grams of CO2 were released per kWh (g/kWh). Compare this to the average hour from 2009 – 2013 when 471 per kWh (g/kWh) was being produced.  In fact, during the first quarter of 2017, emissions dropped by 10 per cent compared to the same period in 2016 and a massive 33 per cent from Q1 in 2015.

While this year’s mild winter played an important role in reducing emissions, the reduction in the use of coal should not be underestimated. Policy levers like the carbon tax continued to push coal off the system and the dramatic growth in renewables also reduced its role.

In January to March 2017:

  • Output from coal generation fell by 30% compared to the same quarter in 2016
  • Renewables hit new energy production records: wind – 11.3 TWh, biomass – 4.4 TWh, hydro – 1.6 TWh
  • Solar hit a new record peak output: 7.67 GW

Dr Iain Staffell, of Imperial College London, said: “The dirtiest hour in the first quarter of 2017, in terms of carbon intensity from electricity, saw 424g of CO2 produced per kWh – that would have seemed clean just a few years ago. The average from 2009 to 2013 was 471g/kWh.

“However, coal output – largely driven by the carbon tax – has fallen 82% in the last four years and has been replaced by mid-carbon gas, low carbon biomass and imports, as well as zero carbon wind and solar.

“Together these have driven decarbonisation in line with, or even slightly ahead of, the country’s targets – which are the most ambitious in the world.”

The rise of intermittent renewables like wind and solar, mean that gas, coal and biomass fired power stations are often not required throughout the day. They are instead being used to power up and down according to the weather and peaks in demand, making flexibility more important than ever before.

While in the winter months we are witnessing record breaking changes in the generation mix, the new data from the first quarter of 2017 suggests that this summer is likely to witness an even more dramatic shift.

In the last weekend of March – for the first time ever – we saw lower daytime than night time demand on the grid. This phenomenon was largely driven by the dramatic rise in solar. Both solar panels and small scale onshore wind are ‘invisible’ from the grid.  This means that effectively what they produce reduces what the grid is required to deliver.

During March, demand on the transmission system was 2.3GW higher at 9am than at 1pm, when solar panels achieve maximum output.  Dr Staffell predicts that based on previous data this gap is set to double this summer (June).

Dr Staffell explained that whilst this quarter was a record-breaker for all renewables, including solar, the sun often isn’t shining at the very times when the country needs the most power – when factories and offices are starting up in the morning – and when people settle down at home for the evening.

Dr Staffell said: “How we manage this changing pattern in demand requires a major change in how power stations operate.

“Solar output is still relatively hard to forecast in advance. Technologies that are flexible and can be turned on and off quickly, such as gas or battery storage will help accommodate these changes.”

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “We continue to see dramatic changes in both the generation mix and new demands on the system, making reliable, flexible power increasingly important.  Seasonal changes are highlighting the changing role that power stations are now playing.

“This new role is set to increase and we will need more nimble technologies which can be up and running at the flick of a switch – like the rapid response gas power stations we are developing.

“This kind of flexible and responsive power generation is vital during times of system stress, such as when the sun isn’t shining or the wind doesn’t blow – it will also enable more intermittent renewables to come onto the grid, replacing coal and making the whole system cleaner.”

Electric Insights will be published once a quarter, and is supported by an interactive website – ElectricInsights.co.uk – which provides live data from 2009 until the present. The data sources and methodology used in Electric Insights are listed in full on the website.

Commissioned by Drax Group, owner and operator of the UK’s largest power station and Europe’s biggest biomass-fuelled power plant, the report will be delivered independently by Dr Iain Staffell from Imperial College London, facilitated by the College’s consultancy company – Imperial Consultants.

The full report can be read here: https://electricinsights.co.uk/Drax_Electric_Insights_Report_2017_Q1.pdf 

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Electric Insights reports that the carbon intensity of electricity averaged 284g/kWh during the first quarter of 2017. It ranged from just 102g/kWh on a windy Sunday night in March to 424g/kWh on a cold and calm January evening when coal output was high.
  • The lowest carbon intensity hour was 4.30am on March 19 when there was 0.78GW of coal generation, 4.4GW gas, 7GW nuclear and 12.0GW renewables.
  • Previously, minimum demand was always during the night and daytime demand never came within 5GW of the night time minimum. However, this gap narrowed to 2.4GW in 2015 and on March 25th 2017 it disappeared completely. This meant demand on the national grid was lower during the daytime than it was over night for the first time ever.
  • All forms of renewables had a record breaking first quarter of 2017:
    • Wind farms recorded their highest quarterly output, generating 11.3TWh over the quarter, beating coal output for the last consecutive four quarters.
    • Biomass also hit a new high of 4.4TWh, meaning the fleet ran at 95% of full capacity over the quarter, higher than any other technology has achieved in the last decade.
    • Hydro hit 1.6TWh – 4% above its previous best in 2014.
    • Solar reached peak output of 7.67GW at the end of March – enough to power a fifth of the country at the time.

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 quarterly reports are backed by an interactive website electricinsights.co.uk which provides live data from 2009 until the present. It was designed by The Economist Group’s independent data design agency, Signal Noise.

About Drax

Drax Group plc plays a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future. Drax operates the largest power station in the UK, based at Selby, North Yorkshire and supplies 7 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.  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 Biomass, based in the US and manufactures compressed wood pellets produced from sustainably managed working forests.

Haven Power, based in Ipswich, providing businesses with electricity.

Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, providing electricity and gas to businesses.

Billington Bioenergy, based in Liverpool with depots across the UK, is one of the leading distributors of wood pellets for sustainable heating in the UK.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

Contacts

Ali Lewis
Drax
01757 612 165
[email protected]

Lynda Stamford
Imperial Consultants
020 7594 2069
[email protected]

Fun science in the woods for families

Making magnetic slime, playing ‘static tennis’ and racing gas-propelled cars are just some of the fun activities children can enjoy during a brand new family event organised by Drax to celebrate British Science Week.

The free outdoor event – “A Bit of Science for a Change!” explores the theme of changing states of matter and will take place within the woods at the Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve between 11am and 3pm on Sunday 19 March.

Children use a map to locate a series of science stations hidden around the nature reserve and then answer questions to earn the equipment and materials needed to complete fun science-based challenges investigating the changing states of liquids, gases and solids.

Drax visitor centre co-ordinator, Jane Breach said:

“This is the first event Drax has hosted as part of British Science Week and we’ve come up with a number of ‘hands-on’ challenges designed to appeal to children of all ages and abilities. We hope this will be a great opportunity for families to come together, enjoy our beautiful nature reserve and learn something along the way.”

She added:

“Discovering how to make a CD hover above the ground and create magnetic slime are just some of the exciting activities planned. For our more competitive participants we’ve even created a Top Gear-style leader board to record the furthest distance achieved by gas-propelled cars!”

Drax has a long tradition of supporting education and helping children in their STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and maths) and recently launched ‘Project Reinvent’ – a secondary schools’ challenge to develop an idea using STEM learning to improve their local community.

Entry to “A Bit of Science for a Change!” is free and there is no need to pre-book. Picnics are permitted on designated areas of the nature reserve. For more information call 01757 612797 or email [email protected].

Editor’s Notes

British Science Week 2017 runs from the 10 to the 19 March. It is a 10-day programme of science, technology, engineering and maths events and activities across the UK organised by the British Science Association (BSA) for people of all ages.

BSA is a charity, founded in 1831. Its mission is to support, grow and diversify the community of people interested and involved in science. For further information visit www.britishscienceassociation.org.

About Drax

Drax Group plc plays a vital role in helping change the way energy is generated, supplied and used as the UK moves to a low carbon future. Drax operates the largest power station in the UK and supplies up to 8 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.  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 Biomass, based in the US and manufactures compressed wood pellets produced from sustainably managed working forests.

Haven Power, based in Ipswich, providing businesses with electricity.

Opus Energy, based in Oxford and Northampton, England, and Cardiff, Wales, providing electricity and gas to businesses.

Billington Bioenergy, based in Liverpool with depots across the UK, is one of the leading distributors of wood pellets for sustainable heating in the UK.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk