Situated in between Leeds and Hull and with a population of only 500 people Drax has got heads turning within the renewable sector.
Ever since 1971 Drax have been known as the home to the largest coal fired power station in Britain and also the largest in Europe! According to Yorkshire Post, Drax burns 36,000 tonnes of coal per day which is equal to enough electricity to power Scotland! With this shocking statistic in mind they produce 20 million tonnes of CO2 every year making them one of the highest point source polluters in Europe!
However there is still hope for us passionate environmentalists. It has been confirmed that Drax will change its ways and convert into a biomass fuelled generator – with three out of six of its units to run on biomass alone. The first of its units was converted in 2013, the second in 2014 and the third is scheduled for next year.
So how does it all work?
Biomass works by absorbing CO2 in the atmosphere and storing it as energy – also known as photosynthesis. Therefore when burning biomass fuels it emits 80% less CO2 then coal – so pretty much a no brainer when it comes to fuel and energy use. Biomass can be replanted and replenished whereas according to Yorkshire Post, 300 million years are required to create coal! Time is money and from our perspective that doesn’t seem like time or money well spent.
By using biomass as a form of energy not only are you reducing carbon emissions but you are creating a sustainable and manageable environment – so why don’t we use more fuel that is readily available to us with an added benefit? Some people may argue that we don’t have enough fuel available to convert completely to biomass. However, on average Europe’s forest area has risen by 834,499ha per year since 1993. The UK currently has sufficient existing forests to sustainably fuel (and without impacting the construction industry) approximately 400,000 homes.
With this in mind Yorkshire Post goes on to say “The industrial emissions directive (IED) of 2010 has set strict emission limits for large plants like Drax. From New Year’s Day, Drax will no longer be able to burn coal high in nitric oxides, which will all but eliminate British coal from the mix. Between the IED and the Large Combustion Plants Directive that precede it, hundreds of coal-fired power stations around Europe have been forced to accept stricter environmental rules or close by the end of 2015.”
Since 10 years ago the UK alone consumes 17% less energy. 16% less oil, 32% less natural gas and 19% less coal and using 52 % more renewable energy. Therefore it becomes a statistical inevitability to convert to renewable energy like biomass and get rid of dirty fossil fuels. This up rise in renewable energy usage has clearly been helped along by government’s incentives but with that due to decrease or even disappear altogether we need to understand that added benefits of renewable energy with all types of incentives is just an added bonus.
Amjad Bashir – conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber says “In many ways Drax should be the ‘poster plant’ for the EU. A power station synonymous in the UK with the coal is converting one generating unit at a time to a green future.”