Plans have been announced to stop the burning of coal in the Draw power plant, causing a loss of 230 jobs. The 2021 plan for the site located in Yorkshire comes four years ahead of the deadline set by the government.
Coal power generation is to be stopped in the Drax power plant in Yorkshire by next year, bringing the end to almost 50 years of power generation and after being one of the most polluting power plants in western Europe.
Drax group plan to stop burning coal at the power plant by March 2021, which comes four years before the government’s goal to ban all coal powered electricity plants by 2025. This will be a major step in reaching this deadline as the plant is the biggest power plant in Britain.
The company has stated that the big decision is all part of the companies ambitions to be a ‘carbon negative’ company by the end of this decade. However, in doing so this decision will cause the loss of 230 jobs of workers at the site in Selby.
The chief executive of Drax, William Gardiner has said that the decision to stop using coal at the site is a ‘landmark’ decision and is one of the continued efforts made by the company to ensure a smooth transition into them being a world leading carbon negative company by 2030. He went on to say that the company has been moving away from using coal for many years now and that they are proud to be well ahead of the 2025 deadline set by the government.
Gardiner believes that by stopping using coal is the correct decision for not only Drax but for local communities and the environment as well. However, he did also note the negative impact it will have on some of their employees and their families with the difficulties they may face.
Drax claim to be the biggest decarbonisation project in the whole of Europe, after decades of being the biggest polluter in all of Britain from back in 1970s when they started producing electricity.
Drax are replacing the coal that is burnt with wood waste pellets, more commonly known as biomass, and are developing carbon capture technology which will trap the pollution before it contributes to global warming.
Environmental campaigners have been protesting against Drax and their plans to replace the coal power plants with gas powered ones instead. They believe that if gas plants are used instead it will only make the UK use fossil fuels for a longer time than needed.
Other green groups have questioned the use of biomass and if it should be considered a ‘renewable’ power source. However, reports from Drax show that the wood pellets that are used are sustainably sourced.
Subsidies that Drax receive for their renewable energy biomass plants are estimated to be around £2.1 million every day. This subsidy along with reduced costs of biomass has meant that Drax has seen its earnings rise to an adjusted £410 million in 2019, which is an increase of a quarter of a million pounds form the year prior.
Gardiner has stated that the use of ‘sustainable biomass’ has not only been the source of power which many households and businesses rely on but it has also enabled the United Kingdom’s power network to decarbonise quicker than anywhere else around the world.