DRAX Power has signed a £40m contract with Siemens for the upgrade of turbines on three of its massive biomass units.
The upgrades will deliver efficiencies, as well as maintenance savings, which will cut the cost of biomass electricity production at the plant in North Yorkshire.
The work, which starts in 2019, will take three years to complete, with one biomass unit being upgraded each year as part of its planned major overhaul. The efficiencies will be gained by fitting new, high tech pipework and valves, with new high efficiency blading and long life seals within the turbines on biomass units 1, 2 and 3.
Since transforming half of the power station to run on compressed wood pellets instead of coal it has become Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project - and the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator.
Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO, said: “We firmly believe that biomass has a long-term role to play in the UK’s energy infrastructure. We’re looking at a number of ways to bring down the costs of our biomass generation – and these turbine upgrades are an important part of that work.
“Reducing the costs of our biomass operations will help to preserve the life of the plant and protect jobs, whilst we continue to produce the flexible, renewable power millions of homes and businesses rely on.”
Darren Davidson, Managing Director, Power Generation Services, Power and Gas, Siemens added: “Siemens and Drax have a long-standing and proud partnership so it’s fantastic that we will now help them further develop their biomass solution. Once delivered this project will improve plant efficiency and flexibility and provide a further source of low carbon power to UK homes, businesses and services.”
Drax has upgraded three of its coal units to run on biomass with a fourth unit currently being converted – due to return to service later in the summer. It also plans to repower its remaining two coal units to use gas and develop up to 200MW of battery storage.
The cost of the upgrades are within Drax’s existing plans with payment upon completion of the works.