NORTH Yorkshire power station Drax says its commitment to reducing environmental impact goes beyond its £700 million conversion project from coal to biomass.

As the UK's largest power station, Selby-based Drax meets between seven and eight per cent of the country's electricity demand.

The station is part way through a project, swapping the burning of coal for biomass.

The work has culminated in the successful conversion of its first generating unit to burn solely biomass in April 2013, supported by newly constructed, bespoke handling, storage and distribution systems.

A second generating unit was converted initially as an enhanced co-firing unit using at least 85 per cent biomass in May 2014.

This now means that more than 20 per cent of Drax’s total output is renewable power.

But its not just the conversion project that has been highlighted in Drax's entry for Think Green Business of the Year.

Matt Willey, external communications manager at Drax explained: "Our water abstraction, particulate, NOx and SOx emissions and waste to landfill are all on a downward trend, but our core strategic goal is to reduce our carbon emissions."

Mr Willey said Drax has developed industry-leading sustainability standards which ensure that the biomass burnt at Drax is truly low carbon and meets the company's comprehensive sustainability policy.

In terms of metrics, Drax measures the carbon footprint at every step in its supply chain, from harvesting through processing to transportation, and the CO2 reduction through burning biomass is more than 80 per cent compared to the coal it would have burnt.

The conversion project has benefited local farmers near Drax as the company now has a biomass pellet plant at Goole which can produce 100,000 tonnes of biomass pellets per year using straw by-products and miscanthus from UK farmers, providing an income for those farmers and in the case of straw gives a use to a by-product that would otherwise be wasted.

Mr Willey said: "No power plant has been similarly transformed at this scale anywhere in the world.

"Few of the solutions we needed came ‘off-the-shelf’ and much of the expertise was developed in-house – this is emerging technology. The changes we have made are bespoke and engineered with efficiency, safety and longevity in mind."