Mr Johnson visited Drax, which is based near Selby in North Yorkshire, to learn more about the UK’s largest power station and its contribution to the UK economy.
The ambassador had a tour of the power station and heard about work being carried out by Drax to upgrade two thirds of its generating units to use sustainable biomass instead of coal. Around 60 per cent of the biomass used by Drax to produce enough renewable electricity for four million households, comes from the sustainable working forests in the southern states of the US, making it the biggest importer of US agricultural products.
Drax also operates three pellet plants in the US, which produce biomass for the power station in North Yorkshire.
Mr Johnson met with Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner and Drax Power’s CEO Andy Koss to hear about the transformation of the power station and their plans for the future. He heard about their plans for a Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage pilot project, which is due to get underway this autumn. If this project is successful, it could enable the power produced at Drax to become carbon negative.
Mr Johnson said: “Being here at Drax has been fascinating – the scale of the place is incredible, and the innovative projects and new technology being trialled here are very exciting. Drax makes a really important contribution to the US economy – I am pleased to be here to mark the important investment they make.”
Will Gardiner, Drax group’s CEO, said: ““We play a valuable role in the communities where we operate in the US, creating jobs and breathing new life into areas previously affected by industrial decline.
“Since the acquisition of a third pellet mill we now employ almost 250 people over there, with plans to grow our self-supply of biomass so we’re producing up to 30% of the pellets used at the power station.”