Drax reduces carbon emissions by more than 90%

By Erin Voegele | July 29, 2021

Drax Group plc on July 29 announced it has reduced its carbon emissions by more than 90 percent over the past decade and has made significant progress with its plans for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) over the past six months.

Drax made the announcements as part of its 2021 half year financial results, released July 29.

"We have had a great first half of the year, transforming Drax into the world's leading sustainable biomass generation and supply company as well as the U.K.'s largest generator of renewable power by output,” said Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax.

"The business has performed well, and we have exciting growth opportunities to support the global transition to a low-carbon economy,” he continued.

"Drax has reduced its generation emissions by over 90 percent, and we are very proud to be one of the lowest carbon intensity power generators in Europe—a huge transformation for a business which, less than a decade ago, operated the largest coal power station in Western Europe.

"In the past six months, we have significantly advanced our plans for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in the U.K. and globally,” Gardiner added. “By 2030 Drax could be delivering millions of tonnes of negative emissions and leading the world in providing a critical technology needed to tackle the climate crisis.”

Drax’s pellet production operations, including the recently acquired Pinnacle Renewable Energy facilities, reported adjusted EBITDA of £40 million for the first six months of the year, up 60 percent when compared to the same period of 2020. Pellet production reached 1.3 million metric tons, up 70 percent when compared to the first half of last year.

The company’s pellet production is expected to further expand later this year. An expansion project at the existing LaSalle pellet plant in Urania, Louisiana, is expected to begin commissioning during the second half of this year. Also  located in Louisiana, the 360,000 metric ton per year Demopolis plant, which was recently acquired through the Pinnacle transaction and is currently under construction, is also expected to begin commissioning activities this year, along with the first of three 40,000 metric ton per year satellite plants located in Arkansas.

Drax’s U.K. power station provide approximately 12 percent of the U.K.’s renewable electricity during the first half of this year. The company’s power generation business reported £185 million of adjusted EBITDA for the first half of 2021, down 14 percent when compared to the same period of 2020. Moving forward, Drax said a major planned outage is planned for its biomass contract for difference (CfD) unit from August through November. Work will include a turbine upgrade to improve thermal efficiency and lower maintenance costs, supporting lower-cost biomass operations. Drax also said that trials are ongoing to expand the range of lower-cost biomass fuels.

Overall, Drax reported adjusted EBITDA of £186 for the first half of the year, up from £179 million during the same period of last year. Operating profit was at £84 million, up from a loss of £57 million.

A full copy of Drax’s financial results for the first half of the year is available on the company’s website.