Public examination of Drax plans to switch to gas end today

Andy Koss

Public examination of Drax’s application for a Development Consent Order by the Planning Inspectorate for its Repower project closes today following an extensive consultation.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will make a decision about Drax’s proposals to repower its two remaining coal-fired generating units with new, high efficiency gas turbines by Friday October 4, 2019.

The Drax Repower project aims to deliver up to 3.6GW of reliable and flexible power generation and up to 200MW of battery storage to help enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last year that by 2050 85% of the world’s electricity will need to come from renewables like wind and solar power if we are to meet our climate change targets. This means the remaining 15% will need to come from flexible and reliable technologies like gas, biomass, hydro and pumped storage.

Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “By using high efficiency gas turbines we can continue to deliver flexible and reliable generating capacity as well as system support services, which are vital for maintaining secure power supplies as more intermittent renewables come online.

“If the Repower project goes ahead we could stop using coal ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline, protecting jobs and preserving the life of the power station.

“Building modern, high efficiency gas power stations will enable ageing, less efficient plant to close, reducing emissions and supplying the reliable and flexible power needed to provide vital system support services.”

Now the examination phase of the application process has closed, the Examination Authority will consider the evidence given and has three months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State at BEIS about whether to approve or reject the proposals.

Several other workstreams are running in parallel to the planning application, including site enabling works, to ensure Drax is in the best possible position to progress with its plans in anticipation of approval.

In addition to the 900 people employed directly by Drax at the power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, in 2017 Drax generated £600m for the northern economy and supported 5,700 jobs in the region.