Drax Power Station to stop using coal in 2021
21st February 2020 | Commercial Energy
Drax Power Station in Selby, North Yorkshire, will cease using coal to generate electricity in March 2021, ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline. The site first started generating electricity using coal in the 1970’s and once the second half of the power station was built in the 1980’s, it became the largest power station in the UK with the capacity to generate electricity for six million households.
Over the last decade, four of the power station’s six generating units have been converted to use biomass, which Drax says delivers carbon savings of more than 80% compared to when they use coal. Drax Power said the move away from coal will lead to job losses and trade unions and employee representatives will be consulted in the coming months.
Drax CEO Will Gardiner said, “Ending the use of coal at Drax is a landmark in our continued efforts to transform the business and become a world-leading carbon negative company by 2030. Drax’s journey away from coal began some years ago and I’m proud to say we’re going to finish the job well ahead of the government’ 2025 deadline.”
Despite Drax’s move away from coal, they have been criticised by green groups for “greenwashing” around their use of biomass. In 2016 Drax burnt pellets made from approximately 13 million tonnes of wood, much of which has been shipped from the United States and South America.
They are also facing a legal challenging from environmental lawyers ClientEarth following a decision in October 2019 by then-energy minister Andrea Leadsom to approve plans for four new gas turbines in North Yorkshire, overturning a decision by the UK’s Planning Inspectorate. ClientEarth were invited to produce a formal assessment to the Planning Inspectorate and said that the combination of the project’s scale, high emissions intensity and long operating life make it a “significant” threat to the UK’s carbon targets and could be responsible for as much as 75% of the emissions budget for the entire UK power sector.
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