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Drax beefs up renewable energy power despite profit dip

UK power giant Drax Group has published its half-year results and reported a doubling of its electricity generation from biomass and an "operationally strong" business, despite a £50 million (€52m) fall in its profits.

North Yorkshire-based Drax reported that its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) figure for the half-year was down 42% at £70 million , compared to £120m the same period last year.  

The group’s pre-tax profits for the six months to June 30 were reported to be £184m, up from £53m at the same time last year. This figure was said to include unrealised gains related to a foreign currency hedging programme to support biomass procurement activities.

The company is in the process of converting its power station in Selby, North Yorkshire, from coal to biomass (compressed wood pellets).

Among the key highlights was the company's achievement of about 70% renewable energy generation from biomass, providing about 20% of the UK's renewable electricity.

'Last six months'

Dorothy Thompson, CEO of Drax, said: "Drax delivered a good operational performance over the last six months, a period during which around 70% of our electricity generation was renewable - enough to power Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool combined - truly a renewable northern powerhouse.

"Whilst we have seen signs of power and commodity prices improving, our financial performance was impacted by the challenging environment in which we operate.

"With our reliable and flexible generation we are well placed to support the country's electricity system as we prepare for the tightest winter in many years. With the right conditions, we can do even more, upgrading further units to use compressed wood pellets in place of coal. This is the fastest and most reliable way to decarbonise the UK whilst minimising the cost to the consumer."