By: Rubina Obaid
Drax is planning to close its last two coal-fired units in the coming year. The other 654 MW units were also converted to run on 100% biomass. It strongly focuses on designing and operating the plants while meeting environmental quality control prerequisites to ensure air standards are met.
Using wood for electricity generation has evolved greatly with mounting technological advancements, making it a sustainable source of energy. Currently, 14% of the world’s primary energy is obtained through biomass and the figure is expected to grow, for the sake of meeting climate neutrality targets effectively. Forests and woody crops are major sources of biomass energy to obtain solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels for providing electricity to numerous industries and households. Woody biomass is also a cost-effective sustainability solution that plays a supplemental role in the renewable sector across the globe. Around 60% of the European Union (EU) renewable energy is obtained through biomass and bioenergy sources. This is equivalent to $107 billion in US GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs across the U.S and helped them to become one of the leading suppliers.
Drax operates a 3.9 GW plant in North Yorkshire which reflects a high level of renewable power generation, support services, and premium pellet production. Thus, Drax is planning to close its last two coal-fired units in the coming year. The other 654 MW units were also converted to run on 100% biomass, fuelled by imported material, and some of them are produced by Drax itself. Over the six months period, Drax produced 0.75m tonnes of its own wood pellets from the production facilities in the US. This represents an overall 15% increase within the year, which was mainly supported by the lower production cost of USD 154/t that was 170/t previously. This was due to the availability of good quality fiber compared to H1 2019, which experienced restricted commercial forestry activity due to the heavy rainfall and unavailability of low-cost fiber, says Drax.
Drax has planned to expand its production plant to 5m tonnes by 2027, from its current capacity that is 1.5 m tonnes. It further says, ” We expect global demand for wood pellets to increase by around 60% this decade, inclusive of Drax’s requirement as other countries develop decarbonization programs which acknowledge the benefits of sustainable biomass for a generation. Whilst, there was an abundance of sustainable biomass globally, there still remains limited wood pellet production capacity. As a result, we expect the global market for biomass to remain structurally short.”
Drax strongly focuses on designing and operating the plants while meeting environmental quality control prerequisites to ensure air standards are met. Therefore, utilizing the best technological practices and state of the art air emission control for ensuring climate compliance while extending contribution to emission targets. Drax portfolio produces 6% of the UK’s power between October 2019 to March 2020. Whereas, Drax power station alone produces 10% of UKs renewable energy according to the last gathered data, and striving to eliminate coal completely to continue its transition towards a more clean and sustainable source of energy.