Following through on intentions Drax Group announced at the beginning of 2018, Drax Power Station is one step closer to achieving its coal-free goals by converting its fourth coal-fired power generating unit to run on renewable feedstock. In a planned outage, the fourth unit was recently taken offline as the company prepares to convert it to run on sustainable biomass.
A trial last year confirmed that by modifying the old co-firing delivery system, compressed wood pellets can be delivered in the quantities required to fully convert the fourth generating unit. Once the upgrade is complete, two-thirds of the power station’s capacity will produce renewable power. Drax has already invested £700 million ($940 million) to upgrade half the power station to run on sustainable biomass, as well as the associated supply chain infrastructure.
The conversion of the fourth unit is expected to be complete over the summer, and it will return to service in the second half of 2018. The cost of conversion is significantly below the level of previous conversion; Drax’s engineers will upgrade the unit by repurposing some of the redundant infrastructure from when the company was first co-firing biomass with coal on a large scale, roughly eight years ago.
Biomass domes at Drax Power Station. SOURCE: Drax Group
Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said “Switching the fourth unit from coal to biomass is another milestone in the transformation of the power station. It will extend the life of the plant, protecting jobs both here at Drax and in the supply chain, whilst delivering cleaner, reliable power for millions of homes and businesses.
“The conversion that’s underway is a testament to the engineering expertise, skill and ingenuity we have at Drax. The team has developed some very innovative solutions for this upgrade, using all the knowledge we’ve gained throughout the work we have done so far to transform the business using sustainable biomass,” Koss added.