After nearly 50 years of power generation from coal at its power station in North Yorkshire, Drax said the decision is a landmark moment in the UK’s efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
However, Drax warned that the decision to ditch coal will lead to a reduction in the workforce at the North Yorkshire power station. Trades Unions and employee representatives will be consulted over the coming months and support is being provided to those affected.
Drax CEO Will Gardiner said: “Stopping using coal is the right decision for our business, our communities and the environment, but it will have an impact on some of our employees, which will be difficult for them and their families.
“In making the decision for the UK to stop using coal and to decarbonise the economy, it’s vital that the impact on people across the North is recognised and steps are taken to ensure that they have the skills needed for the new jobs of the future.”
The firm said this is a major milestone towards delivering Drax’s world-leading ambition to become carbon negative by 2030.
Drax is also spearheading a Zero Carbon Skills Taskforce to help people in the North gain the skills and expertise required to seize the opportunities as the UK moves towards a net zero carbon economy.
The decision to stop using coal follows a comprehensive review of the group's operations. Drax does not expect to use coal after March 2021, but will ensure its two remaining coal units remain available until September 2022, in line with its existing Capacity Market agreements.
Mr Gardiner said: “Ending the use of coal at Drax is a landmark in our continued efforts to transform the business and become a world-leading carbon negative company by 2030. Drax’s journey away from coal began some years ago and I’m proud to say we’re going to finish the job well ahead of the Government’s 2025 deadline.”
Drax Power Station near Selby in North Yorkshire first started generating electricity using coal in the 1970s. Once the second half of the power station was built in the 1980s, it became the largest power station in the UK with the capacity to generate electricity for six million households.
Over the last decade, four of the power station’s six generating units have been converted to use sustainable biomass, delivering carbon savings of more than 80 per cent compared with using coal.
This has transformed Drax to become the UK’s largest renewable power generator and the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe.
Mr Gardiner said: “By using sustainable biomass we have not only continued generating the secure power millions of homes and businesses rely on, we have also played a significant role in enabling the UK’s power system to decarbonise faster than any other in the world.
“Having pioneered ground-breaking biomass technology, we’re now planning to go further by using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to achieve our ambition of being carbon negative by 2030, making an even greater contribution to global efforts to tackle the climate crisis.”