Commercial coal generation at Drax to end in 2021, group confirms

Drax Power Station out of CCS demo
Drax power station

The Drax power plant will cease commercial coal-fired power generation in March next year, four years ahead of the UK’s deadline to quit the fuel, the company has confirmed.

Once Europe’s largest coal-fired power station, coal accounted for only 3 per cent of the Yorkshire plant’s generation in 2019, rendered uneconomic by rising carbon prices. Drax has been burning mostly wood pellets imported by ship from the US in recent years, having begun its switch to biomass more than a decade ago.

Now the station will concentrate on developing its carbon capture and storage (CCS) operations.

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner hailed removal of the residual rump of coal generation as a landmark “in our continued efforts to become a world-leading carbon-negative company by 2030”.

Drax still intends to hold two coal-fuelled turbines in reserve until September 2022 against the firm’s Capacity Market commitments. These were worth £68 million in 2019. In last month’s CM round, the firm took no commitment beyond that date due to the low clearing price.

Costs of the shutdown are budgeted at £35 million, but managers think it will save as much from annual operations. Up to 230 jobs will be lost. Consultations with unions will now follow.

Drax’s full statement is here.

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