US Ambassador visits UK’s biggest power station

US Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson visited Drax Power Station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, yesterday (Thursday October 25th) to learn more about the UK’s largest power station and its contribution to the UK economy.

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.


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