Drax mulls fourth unit conversion, evaluates U.S. East Coast

By Anna Simet | November 07, 2014

Drax has released management statements consistent with its interim report from July 1 to Nov. 3, which includes details on the company’s continued conversion of its North Yorkshire, U.K.-based power station and potential expansion of operations in two U.S. regions.

Drax finished converting the first unit in May of 2013, and one year later began cofiring at its second unit at a rate of 85 percent biomass, which was fully converted to biomass in October.

Drax’s third unit conversion has been awarded a government Investment Contract, management reported, and subject to receiving state aid clearance from the European Commission, plans are to convert the final unit between July 2015 and June 2016. 

During a July call to discuss financial results of the first half of the year, Drax CEO Dorothy Thompson said that the company may potentially convert a fourth unit as well.

Overall, capital investment remains on schedule and on budget, according to statements released by Drax. Commissioning of the new on-site biomass facilities at Drax is complete and all four storage domes are now in service.

In the U.S. Gulf, Drax expects commercial operations at its first pellet plant and port facility to begin in the first quarter of 2015, with commercial operations at the second pellet plant following in the second quarter.

Statements by management indicated that Drax is continuing to evaluate options for further value-enhancing, biomass-related capital investment, which not only includes potentially converting a fourth unit at its North Yorkshire station, but a third U.S. Gulf pellet plant and the development of U.S. East Coast pellet operations.

Drax will announce full-year results for 2014 on Feb. 24.