UK coal producer Drax receives EC approval for biomass unit conversion


UK coal power producer Drax has received approval from the European Commission (EC) for the conversion of a third power plant unit.

The co-firing unit is currently operating under the Renewables Obligation, but will soon be converted to commence operations as a fully converted biomass unit.

Drax Group's cheif executive officer (CEO) Dorothy Thompson said: "We are pleased the European Commission has completed its review of the contract and approved it in line with our expectations. We now look forward to fully converting the unit to run on sustainable biomass.

"With the right conditions, we can do even more, converting further units at Drax to use sustainable biomass in place of coal and through rapid response gas projects to plug the gaps created by intermittent renewables.

"With the right conditions, we can do even more, converting further units at Drax to use sustainable biomass in place of coal."

The unit is expected to have 645MW of electrical power capacity running exclusively on wood pellets. Set to receive government support until 2027, the project is expected to generate around 3.6TWh of electricity every year.

Drax’s plant will use around 2.4 million tonnes of wood pellets per year, which are primarily sourced from the US and South America.

In January this year, the commission opened an in-depth investigation and later carried out a detailed analysis of the project business case by considering comments received from third parties, as well as further information submitted by the UK. Analysis concluded the project's contribution to increasing the share of renewable energy produced in the country outweighs any potential distortions of competition.


Image: Biomass domes at Drax Power Station. Photo: courtesy of Drax Group plc.