Drax unveils big plans for battery storage and gas

Selby, North Yorkshire-based power company Drax Group said it gave notice to the UK’s Planning Inspectorate of its intention to consult on long-term options to repower up to two of its coal units to gas — and to build battery storage at Drax Power Station.

The UK has said that all coal power plants must be closed by the middle of the next decade — and Drax has already switched three coal-burning units to wood pellets.

“Plans for gas on site were announced in June and are part of an ongoing research and development project,” said Drax.

“The options could create up to 3.6GW of new gas generation capacity and 200MW of battery storage.

“They are subject to a positive investment decision and would need to be underpinned by a 15-year capacity market contract.

“The upgrade would enhance Drax Power Station’s flexible and responsive capability, and make Yorkshire the home of large scale battery technology.

“At this early stage in the planning process these figures represent the maximum parameters of the project.

“These options would, if developed, increase Drax’s ability to provide the flexible generation and grid support services Britain’s electricity system will need as coal and other large power stations are turned off.

“Today’s notice to the Planning Inspectorate is a step in developing these options as part of Drax’s strategy to play a vital role in changing the way energy is generated as the UK moves to a low carbon future.

“The options complement Drax’s ongoing work to explore converting a fourth unit to sustainable biomass.

“Three units have already been successfully upgraded, on-time and on-budget.

“They account for 70% of the electricity Drax produces – enough to power Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool and 16% of the UK’s total renewable power.”

Drax said it expects to begin consulting on its plans with local communities and national stakeholders over the coming weeks.

Drax Power CEO Andy Koss, CEO of Drax Power, said: “We are at the start of the planning process but if developed these options for gas and battery storage show how Drax could upgrade our existing infrastructure to provide capacity, stability and essential grid services, as we do with biomass.

“This would continue to keep costs low for consumers and help to deliver Government’s commitment to remove coal from the UK grid.

“Drax Power Station is a national asset and a significant driver of economic growth in the North of England.

“These options could repurpose up to two of our coal assets and extend their operation into the 2030s.

“We have always supported and worked with our local communities and want to ensure they have a role in shaping our thinking.

“We will undertake a comprehensive programme of local consultation and engagement over the coming months to share our options with the public and listen to their views.”