Drax Coal Fired Power Plant converted to Biomass, White Rose Project approved for funding in UK


10 December 2013 – London, UK – Britain’s largest coal-fired power station is set to become one of Europe’s biggest renewable electricity generators, with the potential for new future generation on the site to be based on truly clean coal. British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey opened the Drax coal-to-biomass conversion plant on Monday, 9 December and announced the Government was awarding funding to further the White Rose CCS project, also based at the site.

131210-pmwj18-drax-IMAGEAt Drax, the £700 million planned conversion project will burn wood pellets rather than coal. Drax calculates 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.

Today 40% of the UK’s electricity comes from coal. 20% is from old nuclear. Most of that is due to come off line in the next decade. This emerging energy gap needs to be filled with low-carbon electricity that will keep the lights on, bring bills down and reduce emissions to tackle climate change. The plan is for a mix – of renewables (biomass and coal to biomass conversions, onshore and offshore wind and solar), Carbon Capture and Storage technology, nuclear and some gas.

The multi-million pound FEED study funding will support the White Rose project, which is designing a c.£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!”

“I’m proud that the UK is at the forefront of developing Carbon Capture and Storage,” he added, “which could be a game-changer in tackling climate change and provide a huge economic advantage not just to this region, but to the whole country.”


White Rose is the first project to be allocated funds under Government’s £1 billion CCS Commercialisation Programme.  CCS allows the safe removal and permanent storage of carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power stations, as well as from industrial processes. Old and polluting coal plants are being phased out and will be replaced by 2030 with clean coal or sustainably sourced biomass that has been fitted with CCS. Up to 12GW of CCS could be deployed by 2030, rising to 40GW by 2050. This could well be generating more electricity than total domestic electricity demand, and provide 22% of the UK’s energy by 2050.

The FEED study is a programme of detailed engineering, planning and financial work to finalise and de-risk all aspects of the proposal ahead of taking final investment decisions, and proceeding to construction.

The White Rose proposal is to build a new state-of-the-art 426MW (gross) clean coal power plant with full carbon capture and storage. It will be the largest oxy combustion plant in the world and will also have the potential to co-fire biomass. It will capture approximately 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year, some 90% of all CO2 emissions produced by the plant. The CO2 will be transported through National Grid’s proposed Yorkshire / Humber CCS Trunkline for permanent undersea storage in the North Sea.

Alstom, Drax and BOC are the project co-developers. The three partners have formed a company called Capture Power limited that would be responsible for the development, implementation and operation of the proposed new plant. As part of this cooperation, Alstom would have responsibility for construction of the power plant together with the CO2 processing unit and BOC would have responsibility for the construction of the air separation unit that supplies oxygen for combustion. Drax would have responsibility for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the power plant and the CO2 processing facility with BOC having responsibility for the O&M of the air separation unit.

National Grid would construct and operate a large capacity CO2 transport pipeline and permanent CO2 undersea storage facilities at a North Sea site. This work would take forward a proposal which has benefitted from the European Commission’s European Energy Reform Programme (EEPR) fund.

For more on this story, go to https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cleaner-greener-future-for-british-coal-plants.

The British government’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change.  DECC is a ministerial department, supported by 8 agencies and public bodies. The Right Honorable Edward Davey was appointed Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change in February 2012. To read more about what DECC does, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-energy-climate-change/about.  For more about DECC, go to https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-energy-climate-change.