THE plan to make Drax Power Station completely coal free has taken a big step forward after it switched on its fourth biomass generating unit.
Having upgraded three of its coal units to use biomass, the conversion of a fourth unit means it is on course to be off coal before the government’s 2025 deadline.
Work got under way on the conversion as part of a planned maintenance programme in June, with Drax’s team of engineers completing the work required, on schedule, in just over two months.
The cost of conversion of the fourth generating unit is significantly below the level of previous conversions, at around £30 million.
To convert the unit the project team has re-used some redundant infrastructure left from when the company was first co-firing biomass with coal on a large scale, around eight years ago.
A trial last year confirmed that by modifying the old co-firing fuel transportation system, compressed wood pellets can be delivered in the quantities required to fully convert the fourth generating unit.
Andy Koss, Drax Power chief executive, said: “This is another major milestone in the transformation of the power station. It will extend the life of the plant, protecting jobs, whilst delivering cleaner, reliable power for millions of homes and businesses.
“It is testament to the engineering expertise, skill and ingenuity we have at Drax. The team has developed some very innovative solutions for this upgrade, using all the knowledge we’ve gained throughout the work we have done so far to transform the business using sustainable biomass.”
Drax has already invested around £700 million in upgrading the first three units.