MP’s claims about the sustainability of biomass are misinformed - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Bruce Heppenstall, plant director at Drax Power Station.

The claims made about Drax by Selaine Saxby MP in “Burning Biomass is not Sustainable” (Yorkshire Post December 8, 2022) were disappointing. The MP for North Devon has never visited Drax’s operations in Yorkshire or North America, nor has she ever engaged with us to better understand our business.

Drax is the UK’s largest generator of reliable, renewable power, providing electricity for four million homes and is critical to UK energy security.

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Saxby’s claim that forests are “cut down to produce wood pellets” is not true. The forests we source from are harvested for timber, not biomass.

The sunsets at Drax Power Station, near Selby. PIC: Simon HulmeThe sunsets at Drax Power Station, near Selby. PIC: Simon Hulme
The sunsets at Drax Power Station, near Selby. PIC: Simon Hulme

When forests are harvested to produce timber, Drax uses the sawdust and other low-grade wood which is left over - 75 per cent of the material in our pellets is sawdust, chips, and dead and diseased wood that would often be landfilled or burned. The rest is other wood sawmills cannot use.

Drax is a world leader in sustainable biomass and our robust standards ensure our biomass meets the strict sustainability requirements of the UK, US and Canadian governments, as well as those of the EU.

Sustainability is at the heart of everything that we do - Drax is committed to ensuring the biomass we source delivers positive outcomes for the climate, for nature and for the communities in which we operate.

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The carbon accounting for biomass which Saxby challenges is well established by thousands of leading climate scientists from the UN’s IPCC and the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee.

Drax is an important part of the Yorkshire economy and the region’s ambitions to become carbon negative. We plan to invest billions of pounds in bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) at our power station, permanently removing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year and making a significant contribution to the UK’s climate targets.

BECCS in Yorkshire will create and support 10,000 jobs, in addition to the 6,000 already supported by our existing operations.