Europe's biggest renewable energy plant completes switch from coal to biomass
Britain’s largest coal-fired power station is set to become one of Europe’s biggest renewable electricity generators today, with the potential for new future generation on the site to be based on truly clean coal.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey opened the Drax coal-to-biomass conversion plant, and announced the Government was awarding funding to further the White Rose CCS project, also based at the site.
At Drax, the £700 million planned conversion project will burn wood pellets rather than coal. Its operators calculate that this will reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared to coal. The facilities opened today will provide enough low carbon power to supply the equivalent of around 1 million homes, and help to safeguard 1,200 jobs and many more in the supply chain and in local communities.
The Government is looking to fill an emerging energy gap as coal-fired power stations come offline with a mix of renewables, Carbon Capture and Storage technology, nuclear and some gas.
It believes this will help to protect consumers from price spikes caused by importing expensive gas, and will lower people’s bills in the long-run with households getting £50 off their bills a year by early next year.
The multi-million pound FEED study funding will support the White Rose project, which is designing a £2 billion state-of-the-art coal power plant with full CCS that will be able to provide clean electricity to more than 630,000 homes.
It also includes the planned development of a CO2 transport and storage network — the Yorkshire Humber CCS Trunkline — which would have capacity for additional CCS projects in the area.
This innovative project has the potential to create up to 2,000 jobs and safely capture 90% of the plant’s emissions.
Together, the two projects could support 3,200 jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber, and provide carbon transport infrastructure to help build a clean energy industry in the region.
Mr Davey said: "It’s crucial that we safeguard our energy security by generating green electricity on UK soil that protects bill payers from volatile foreign energy imports.
Our coal industry has powered Britain for more than a century, and today we’re seeing a clear roadmap for its future — whether by converting existing coal plants to cleaner fuels, or building state-of-the-art power stations that mean coal is truly clean. While at the same time creating new green jobs for Yorkshire."
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Biomass energy plant image via Shutterstock.