DRAX has announced that almost 50 years of generating power from coal at its North Yorkshire station is expected to end next year.
The company does not expect to use coal after March 2021 but will ensure its two remaining coal units remain available until September 2022 in line with its existing Capacity Market agreements.
Over the last decade four of the power station’s six generating units have been converted to use biomass.
Drax CEO Will Gardiner commented on the news: “Ending the use of coal at Drax is a landmark in our continued efforts to transform the business and become a world-leading carbon negative company by 2030.
“Drax’s journey away from coal began some years ago and I’m proud to say we’re going to finish the job well ahead of the Government’s 2025 deadline.
“By using sustainable biomass we have not only continued generating the secure power millions of homes and businesses rely on, we have also played a significant role in enabling the UK’s power system to decarbonise faster than any other in the world.
“Having pioneered ground-breaking biomass technology, we’re now planning to go further by using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage to achieve our ambition of being carbon negative by 2030, making an even greater contribution to global efforts to tackle the climate crisis.”
Drax Power Station, near Selby, first started generating electricity using coal in the 1970s.
Once the second half of the power station was built in the 1980s, it became the largest power station in the UK with the capacity to generate electricity for six million households.
In December 2019, the company announced its plans to become carbon negative.
Stopping using coal at Drax will lead to a reduction in the workforce at the power station.
The company says that Trades Unions and employee representatives will be consulted over the coming months.
Mr Gardiner continued: “Stopping using coal is the right decision for our business, our communities and the environment but it will have an impact on some of our employees, which will be difficult for them and their families.”
The company is also in talks with the government, trades unions and industrial businesses across the North about joining with Drax in establishing a new Zero Carbon Skills Taskforce.
This seeks to ‘help people in the region gain the skills and expertise required to seize new job opportunities as the UK moves towards a net zero economy.’
“In making the decision for the UK to stop using coal and to decarbonise the economy, it’s vital that the impact on people across the North is recognised and steps are taken to ensure that they have the skills needed for the new jobs of the future.”