Drax abandons Selby gas plant, but retains ‘options’

North Yorkshire-based power company Drax Group said on Thursday it will abandon a plan to build a large gas-fired power plant at its main site near Selby as it moves to become carbon negative by 2030.

However, while the company said it plans “no new gas generation at Drax Power Station” it added that it will “retain options for system support gas in next capacity auction.”

Drax shares, which have risen almost 50% over the past 12 months, fell about 3%.

Drax has converted four of its six coal units to use sustainable biomass — with the remaining coal units set to close by the end of March 2021.

Drax had previously said it could replace the remaining coal units with gas plants.

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said on Thursday: “Our focus is on renewable power.

“Our carbon intensity is one of the lowest of all European power generators.

“We aim to be carbon negative by 2030 and are continuing to make progress.

“We are announcing today that we will not develop new gas fired power at Drax.

“This builds on our decision to end commercial coal generation and the recent sale of our existing gas power stations.

“The proposed acquisition of Pinnacle Renewable Energy will position Drax as the world’s leading sustainable biomass generation and supply business, paving the way for us to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – taking us even further in our decarbonisation.”

The gas news came as Drax announced its 2020 results which showed a £235 million loss before tax, compared to a £16 million loss a year before. Revenue slipped about 5% to £4.2 billion.