Drax gets approval for gas modification at Selby

Materials World magazine
8 Oct 2019

Drax Power Station (Drax) has been given approval by the UK government to build new gas turbines, in a bid to switch away from coal. 


The station, near Selby, North Yorkshire, has a 2.6GW capacity for biomass and 1.29 GW for coal. 


A total of six units are on site, two of which are fuelled by coal, while the remainder are powered by biomass.  


Under the proposal, Drax wants to build new combined cycle gas turbine generating units, replacing the coal-fired Units 5 and 6, which will be decommissioned.


The project includes up to four gas turbines, two in each of the two units, each powering a dedicated generator of up to 600 megawatts (MW) in capacity. Each unit would provide steam, via a heat recovery steam generator, to a steam turbine for that unit, which would generate up to 600MW per unit.


The project would have a new combined capacity of up to 3.6 gigawatts (GW).


It is also proposed to construct up to two battery storage facilities, one per generating unit and each up to 100MW.


To help with the development, a gas pipeline would be built to connect to the existing National Transmission System pipeline, about 3km away. The electricity would be fed into the grid through a connection into a 400 kilovolt (kV) substation.


The company stated the next step is to secure a capacity market agreement to underpin the investment before proceeding with the project. 


In April, Drax Power CEO Andy Koss said the company could stop using coal ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline to which unnecessary coal burning should cease. 


ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law organisation, expressed disappointment with the decision, particularly after previously submitting a rejection to the proposal earlier in 2019. It has also stated the UK does not need more gas. 


'The government estimates the UK will need 6GW of new gas generation through to 2035. However the UK has already greenlit more than 15GW worth of large-scale gas plants. Approving Drax’s project would take this to 18GW – three times the government’s estimates,' the company said. 


'With the UK’s coal phase-out planned for 2025, the coal-fired units stand to be decommissioned if the proposed gas conversion does not take place. The proposed gas conversion therefore threatens to lock the UK into unnecessary high-carbon power. This was supported by analysis from energy policy experts Sandbag as well as the government’s own projections.'