Few companies have reinvented themselves as many times as Drax, owner of Britain’s biggest power station. The plant’s notorious status as the country’s largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions ought to mean it faces certain extinction. Yet it has been able to dodge the fate that has befallen so many coal-fuelled power stations. Drax was one of the first on the biomass bandwagon, burning wood chips alongside coal as early as 2004. Sensing coal’s demise, the company got into the alternative energy source in a big way, converting half the 4 gigawatt plant into a giant wood-chip furnace. That strategy, which involves shipping tons of the stuff thousands of miles across the Atlantic from Mississippi and Louisiana, has dubious green credentials. But for Drax it makes sound economic sense: its biomass burning is backed by taxpay er subsidies for the next decade. On top of this it has added a supply operation that sells power to businesses, creating a valuable stream of service revenues. When the government promised to end coal generation by 2025, Drax played its next hand. It wants to build four small gas power stations around the country, convert most of the rest of the Drax plant in North Yorkshire to gas, and build the world’s biggest battery beside it. At 200 megawatts, this would dwarf the capacity of Tesla’s planned battery in Australia.
Times 17th Sept 2017 read more »