NORTH Yorkshire power station operator Drax is working with academics in a bid to revolutionise the future of the UK’s energy industry.

Drax Group is working with the University of Sheffield on research aimed at investigating ways to meet the UK’s changing energy needs.

The company, which owns the country’s largest power station, near Selby, is sponsoring three PhD projects at the university.

Having transformed half of its coal-fired power station to sustainable biomass, to become the UK’s largest single site renewable generator, Drax is also developing four rapid response gas power stations. In addition it recently announced it is exploring options for repowering some of its coal units to gas and developing battery storage.

Dorothy Thompson, Drax Group’s chief executive, said: “The energy sector is changing beyond recognition in the UK and modern companies like Drax are transforming with it.

“The work with the University of Sheffield will help us to deliver on our aim of changing the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future.”

The projects Drax is working on with the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Storage and its Applications, are aimed at increasing understanding of developing technologies, to enable Drax to support the UK’s energy system in the future.

The PhDs will focus on topics including the use of flow batteries for grid support, customer interaction with vehicle to grid systems using smart technology, and cleaning of exhaust streams for small power generators.

Jason Shipstone, head of Drax Group’s Research and Innovation Team, said: “Flexibility is already important for the UK’s electricity system, but it’s going to become vital as we continue to decarbonise and more electric vehicles take to the roads.

“Without the right storage and flexibility, the UK’s power systems will struggle to meet the increasing demand.

“This collaboration with the University of Sheffield will provide us with insights which I believe could help us to deliver better, smarter solutions for our future energy needs.”

The research work will be carried out by PhD students at the University of Sheffield over three years from October.

Dr Solomon Brown, deputy director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Storage and its Applications at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted the Drax Group have decided to work with us to develop their business.”