UK’s Drax Coal Plant to Consider Biomass Switch

5 August 2010 (Last Updated August 5th, 2010 18:30)

The UK's largest coal power station, Drax Power Plant, is considering switching to biomass power if the government agrees to grant renewable subsidies to converted coal plants. Drax finance director Tony Quinlan told the Guardian that Drax is a viable business today as a coal plant.

The UK's largest coal power station, Drax Power Plant, is considering switching to biomass power if the government agrees to grant renewable subsidies to converted coal plants.

Drax finance director Tony Quinlan told the Guardian that Drax is a viable business today as a coal plant.

"But the opportunity to turn it into a renewable power company is an exciting one and makes sense for the UK's carbon targets and for our shareholders," Quinlan said.

Drax is expecting some certainty on subsidies in the government's energy review this autumn before it goes ahead with the switch.

The firm is looking to convert all six units of the coal-fired power station so that they only burn biomass such as wood chip within the next ten years, according to Quinlan.

The firm plans to convert the first 660MW unit next year based on the government’s decision on the subsidies.

Following the success and economic feasibility of the first conversion, two more Drax units could be converted to burning biomass by 2015 and the remainder of the 4GW plant would switch to biomass by 2020.