Energy secretary Ed Davey has inaugurated biomass power plant Drax, which will produce electricity from wood pulp and cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Drax power station will spend £700 million to convert three coal-fired generating units to biomass by 2016. Davey also announced the government is funding the Rose White carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the site.
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.”
The facility will cut its CO2 emission by 80%, by burning wood pellets instead of coal, and provide electricity to power the equivalent of one million homes.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) welcomed the announcement. REA’s chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said, “Biomass is exactly what the UK energy mix needs. Through converting old coal plants and building new biomass plants, we can have electricity when we need it and keep the lights on this decade using sustainable wood fuel instead of polluting coal power”.
However, the sustainability of the project is at risk, as the wood burnt will be shipped from the US, where forests are cleared to provide fuel for the UK’s power stations.