Drax Power Station

Drax Power Station

Infobox UK power station

static_image_caption=Drax power station seen from Barmby Tidal Barrage across the River Ouse.
region=Yorkshire and the Humber
shire_county=North Yorkshire
operator=Drax Group plc
fuel_capacity=3,945 MW

Drax Power Station is a large coal-fired power station located near Selby, North Yorkshire in Northern England. Drax employs over 700 people directly and supports many other local jobs and companies. It provides about 7% of Britain's electrical power demand. The station is named after the nearby parish of Drax and is owned by Drax Group plc. Drax recently entered the FTSE 100 in December 2005.


Built by the Central Electricity Generating Board to be near the newly discovered Selby coalfields, Drax was the last coal-fired plant to be built in Britain. It was constructed in two equal-sized phases of three generating units each. The first phase began generation in 1974, and the second phase was complete by 1986.


The Phase 1 construction at Drax was carried out by Costain (foundations and cable tunnels), Sir Robert McAlpine (roads and ancillary buildings), Mowlem (piling), Alfred McAlpine (administration building and control building), Balfour Beatty (general building works) and James Scott (cabling).

The Phase 2 construction at Drax was carried out by Tarmac Construction [Berry Ritchie, "The Story of Tarmac" Page 100, Published by James & James (Publishers) Ltd, 1999] (Drax completion civil engineering works), Holst Civil Engineers (chimney), N.G. Bailey (cabling), Reyrolle, English Electric and South Wales Switchgear (switchgear), T.W. Broadbent of Huddersfield (maintenance of temporary site electrical supplies), Sulzer Brothers (boiler feed pumps) and English Electric (the generator cooling water pumps).

The boilers were made by Babcock Power Ltd and the generators by Parsons. The plant was fitted with Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) scrubbers over eight years from 1988 by Mitsui Babcock.


In the privatisation and breakup of the UK power industry, operation of Drax Power Station was transferred to the privatised generating company National Power in 1990. National Power sold Drax Power Station to the AES Corporation in November 1999 for £1.87 billion (US $3 billion). However the station is now owned by the Drax Group.

Specification and Operations

The plant has six 660 megawatt (MW) generating units, and a maximum capacity of 3,945 MW, producing around 24 Terawatt-hours (TWh) (86.4 petajoules) annually. All six units are served by independent wet limestone-gypsum flue gas desulphurisation (“FGD”) plant, which removes at least 90% of the sulphur dioxide (SO2) from the flue gases. It is the largest single electricity generator in the United Kingdom, producing around 7% of total demand, and the second largest coal-fired plant in Europe, after Bełchatów Power Station in Poland. The station's convert|259|m|abbr=on chimney is the tallest chimney in the UK. [ [http://skyscraperpage.com/diagrams/?buildingID=5433 Drax flue gas stack] ] The station has a maximum potential consumption of convert|36000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 of coal a day, and uses between convert|7000000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 and convert|11000000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 annually. Coal is supplied in part from the nearby Kellingley Colliery and in bulk from Poland. Although it generates around convert|1500000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 of ash and convert|22800000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 of carbon dioxide each year, Drax is the most carbon-efficient coal-fired powerplant in the United Kingdom [ [http://www.draxgroup.plc.uk/dp/corporate.php?page=history Drax Group website] ] . All six of the generating units are equipped with the APMS control system developed by RWE npower and Thales and implemented by Capula.For more information, see Advanced Plant Management System or the external APMS website.] Between 2007 and 2012, £100m is to be invested in reblading the turbines to help improve efficiency further.

Environmental effects

Drax manages their environmental compliance under an Environmental Management System (“EMS”) certified to theinternational standard ISO 14001. Its purpose is to ensure that they meet legal and policy commitments to protect and improve the environment in the course of carrying out their business.

In 2005 Drax produced convert|20800000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 of carbon dioxide (CO2). The Times reported that this is more than the amount produced by 103 small unindustrialised nations. By comparison, vehicles in the UK emitted convert|91000000|t|lk=on|sigfig=4 of CO2. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2184145.html Times article] ] Drax is the biggest single source of CO2 in the United Kingdom. Drax have committed to a CO2 emissions reduction programme that will reduce their emissions by over three million tonnes or 15% by the end of 2011.

On 31 August 2006, over 600 people attended a protest against the power stations extremely high Carbon emissions called "Reclaim Power", coordinated by the Camp for Climate Action. Thirty nine people were arrested during the protest at the plant, after they tried to illegally gain access to the plant. At least 3,000 police officers from 12 forces from as far afield as Hampshire and London, were reported to have been drafted in for the duration of the protest. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1223134.ece Independent article] ]

Despite widespread criticism of its carbon footprint, Drax remains a key provider of electricity to the UK. Recently Drax Power Limited signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (”EPC”) contract worth £50 million (€63 million) with Alstom Power Limited to build the main processing works associated with a 1.5 million tonnes per year biomass co-firing facility which is to be constructed at the station. The completed project, which at 400MW is believed to be the largest biomass co-firing project in the world, is part of Drax’s commitment to tackling climate change through reducing its emissions of CO2. Over the last five years Drax has developed the capability to co-fire renewable biomass materials with coal and has set itself the challenging target of producing 10% of its output by co-firing. This is the equivalent output of around 500 wind turbines, which will reduce the stations CO2 emissions by over two million tonnes each year.

The solid wastes from Drax (such as Furnace Bottom Ash, Pulverised fuel ash (PFA) and FGD Gypsum) are all either sold or disposed of on site. The Gypsum is transported by rail to Kirkby Thore on the Settle-Carlisle Railway, and 75% of the fuel ash is sold to the construction industry to be used as aggregate in concrete products or used as a partial cement substitute in concrete. The remaining waste materials were disposed of on site, which resulted in the Barlow Ash mound. It is the largest Pulverised fuel ash disposal mound in Europe, at convert|1|km|abbr=on long by convert|30|m|abbr=on high. This has been restored to woodland and grazing, forming a natural-looking hill found to be good for burrowing by badgers and rabbits - the latter are known to be a serious nuisance and need controlling. There were some experimental PFA and FGD gypsum mounds nearby that developed an extensive colony of early marsh orchids. A few of these still survive on a specially built PFA mini-mound west of the main Barlow mound.

Many people mistake the white substance coming from the twelve cooling towers to be smoke, it is in fact water vapour created by the cooling water.

Drax in the community

Drax launched a 'Cricket in the Community' initiative in May 2006 and has proved popular with local schools. It involves cricket coaching to schools in the local area and promotes sports learning as part of the National Curriculum. Drax also host the Drax Cup, the region's first-ever cricket competition for teams of girls and boys under the age of nine. A total of 86 primary schools across Yorkshire took part.Drax are also responsible for 'Art in the Community' that encourages and develops art appreciation. Primary and secondary schools in the area are invited to enter and have the chance to share in prize money totalling over £2,500.During 2007, Drax also gave financial support of £121,108 in total across a range of charitable and non-charitable causes.

See also

*List of tallest buildings and structures in Great Britain
*Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
*Energy policy of the United Kingdom


External links

* [http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=53.730975~-0.995775&style=a&lvl=16&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&rtp=null~null&encType=1 Working aerial view]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/5300560.stm BBC News - August 2006 - Power station protesters arrested ]
* [http://www.apms.org.uk/ APMS: Advanced Plant Management System external website]

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