Powering ahead with conversion

(6758205)

(6758205)

First published in Business news

DRAX is powering ahead with its £750 million biomass project with all four storage domes now ready to be commissioned as the firm contemplates further unit conversions.

Drax, which runs a power station south of Selby, is part way through a project to become the biggest renewable plant in the world, by converting three of its six coal fired units into biomass burners.

The firm has this week revealed all four 'domes' which have been installed onsite to store biomass pellets, are now ready with two already in use.

Drax bosses have also said they are contemplating whether to apply for Government support to covert a fourth generating unit.

To date the business has converted one unit from coal to biomass, and is now co-firing on a second unit, using 15 per cent coal with 85 per cent biomass.

A third unit is due to be converted towards the end of 2015.

Peter Emery, production director of Drax Group PLC, said: "No one has every converted a power station like this before and there are no off the shelf answers but with the help of our partners Drax is meeting every challenge it has faced.

"From a project execution perspective it has gone very well.

"The most difficult challenge for us engineering wise was getting the infrastructure on the top of the domes because no one had every done that in the UK before, we introduced a completely new installation process over here.

"A second Government scheme will open for more applications for their Contracts for Difference (CfD). We are mulling over where to apply for further units in that process.

"We will have to build two more domes if we had one more unit, however the conveyor and sampling system has been designed for up to six units."

Drax is also expecting to resolve its legal challenge against the Government next month after it advised the firm its second unit is no longer eligibly for Investment Contracts under the early CfD mechanism, having previously said it was in December.

Mr Emery said: "Our view is nothing has changed between the December decision and the announcement in April. We have done nothing the change the way the conversions are being executed. There is no basis for the government to change its view, and it has not made it clear to us why it changed its mind."

See page three for a full update on Drax's biomass conversion project.

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