Power station Drax is facing an investigation by energy regulator Ofgem into the sustainability of the biomass it uses at its wood-burning power plant in North Yorkshire.

The move comes as Britain’s biggest power plant faces growing scepticism over how ‘green’ its operations really are.

Ofgem, said it would investigate whether the facility near Selby – which produces about 6% of the UK’s electricity – has broken reporting rules needed for its renewable energy subsidy scheme.

Over the years, Drax has pocketed billions of pounds of taxpayer funded subsidy.

Critics also doubt that burning wood pellets imported from North American forests can also be considered ’carbon neutral.’

Drax power station near Selby accused by BBC Panorama probe of chopping down forests

Recently, Drax also featured on BBC1’s Panorama about concerns it had cut down environmentally-important forests- a claim it rejected.

The regulator will assess the accuracy of the energy company’s sustainability reports concerning the sourcing of its wood pellets – 80% of which come from forests in the US and Canada.

Ofgem said: “We are investigating whether Drax Power Limited is in breach of annual profiling reporting requirements relating to the Renewables Obligations scheme and other related matters.”

It added: “The opening of this investigation does not imply that we have made any findings about possible non-compliance by Drax Power Limited.”

Selby-based firm reveals near-doubling of profits to £731m

Drax responded: “Ofgem’s announcement states that the opening of an investigation does not imply any finding of non-compliance.

“It has separately confirmed that it has not established any non-compliance that would affect the issuance of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to Drax, and therefore the associated financial benefit.”

The statement continued: “Like all energy generators, Drax receives regular requests from Ofgem and continues to cooperate fully throughout this process.”

“Last year Drax appointed a third party to independently verify the accuracy of its biomass sustainability and profiling data as part of an ongoing process. Drax is confident in the compliance of its biomass with the Renewables Obligation criteria.”

Earlier this year, Selby-based Drax reported a near-doubling of its profits.

Environment Agency consults over Drax BECCS carbon capture scheme

In February the power generator revealed it made £731m in the previous 12 months, up 84% on the previous year, higher than analyst expectations of £699m.

The company credited its performance on a growth of imported pellets from North America to fuel its biomass operations at Drax, near Selby.

In recent decades Drax has received some £6bn in green energy subsidies from UK taxpayers and is due to receive £800m this year.

Drax ends use of coal after nearly 50 years

In April, Drax announced the end of coal-fired electricity generation after 50 years.

Drax ended commercial operations of its two remaining coal-fired generation units in March 2021, with formal closure planned for September 2022.

Its coal-fired plans had been on standby but Drax says central government  is confident the country has enough energy supplies so all coal-fired power stations must cease by October 2024.