Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry and Nigel Adams, MP have visited Drax Power Station this week to find out more about the ‘Repower’ project.
The project would see up to two of Drax’s coal generating units repowered to gas. The plans would complement its 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 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.
CEO Andy Koss 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.
Mr Berry 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 £577 million across the North of England – Yorkshire and Humber, North West, and North East, termed as the ‘Northern Powerhouse Region’.