Drax announces £40 million turbine upgrades

In a bid to improve the efficiency of its biomass generating units Drax has signed a £40 million (€44.9 million) contract with Siemens for turbine upgrades.

Drax operates the UK’s biggest power station, near Selby in Yorkshire. As part of a massive decarbonisation project, Drax is converting the facility and its associated supply chain infrastructure from coal to sustainable biomass.

Of the six coal fuelled units at the site, three have been converted to run on biomass with the conversion of the fourth unit currently in progress.

Siemens will carry out the upgrades of turbines in three of the biomass units over the next three years. The work is scheduled to start in 2019.

According to a statement, the upgrades ‘will deliver efficiencies, as well as maintenance savings, which will cut the cost of biomass electricity production at the plant in North Yorkshire.’

“We firmly believe that biomass has a long-term role to play in the UK’s energy infrastructure. 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,” said Andy Koss, CEO of Drax Power.

“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.”

These improvements 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.

“Siemens and Drax have a long-standing and proud partnership so it’s fantastic that we will now help them further develop their biomass solution,” said Darren Davidson, managing director, Power Generation Services, Power and Gas at Siemens.

“Once delivered this project will improve plant efficiency and flexibility and provide a further source of low carbon power to UK homes, businesses and services.”

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