Drax Power has signed a new £40 million contract with Siemens for the upgrade of turbines on three of its biomass units over the next three years.
Courtesy of Trevor Littlewood
The upgrades are aimed at delivering efficiencies and maintenance savings in order to cut the cost of biomass electricity production at the plant in North Yorkshire, which is the biggest power station in the UK. The work to upgrade the turbines will commence in 2019 and will take three years to complete. One biomass unit will be upgraded each year as part of its planned major overhaul. The efficiencies will be gained by fitting new, high tech pipework and valves, with new high efficiency blading and long-life seals within the turbines on biomass units 1, 2 and 3.
Since transforming half of the power station to run on compressed wood pellets instead of coal, the power station has become Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project – and the UK’s largest single site renewable power generator.
“We firmly believe that biomass has a long-term role to play in the UK’s energy infrastructure” said Andy Koss, Drax Power CEO. “We’re looking at a number of ways to bring down the costs of our biomass generation – and these turbine upgrades are an important part of that work. Reducing the costs of our biomass operations will help to preserve the life of the plant and protect jobs, whilst we continue to produce the flexible, renewable power millions of homes and businesses rely on”.
Darren Davidson, Managing Director, Power Generation Services, Power and Gas, Siemens, added that Siemens and Drax have a long-standing partnership and that, once delivered, the project will improve plant efficiency and flexibility, providing a further source of low-carbon power to UK homes, businesses and services.
Drax has upgraded three of its coal units to run on biomass with a fourth unit currently being converted – due to return to service later in the summer. It also plans to repower its remaining two coal units to use gas and develop up to 200 MW of battery storage.
The cost of the upgrades are within Drax’s existing plans with payment upon completion of the works.
Image of Drax power station courtesy of Trevor Littlewood