Drax nears end of five-year £100m turbine upgrade

Drax Power Station is poised to complete what it claims is the largest steam turbine modernisation programme in UK history.

The UK’s largest power plant – which produces 7 per cent of the Britain’s power and has a capacity of 4000 MW – is putting the finishing touches to replacing all six units at its site in Yorkshire, England.
Drax coal plant

The five-year project cost £100m and will see Drax (DRX:LSE) cut its carbon emissions by one million tonnes a year.

Siemens was awarded the contract to replace the low pressure and high pressure turbines and made the parts at its manufacturing centres in Newcastle and Muelheim an der Ruhrin Germany.

The turbines consist of 28 separate turbine rotors which weigh more than 2800 tonnes and have 80 000 individual turbine blades.

Drax production director Peter Emery said the company takes “our responsibility to cut carbon emissions seriously and this project marks a significant milestone in our efforts to do that”.

He explained that the decision to go ahead with the modernisation was taken because “it became clear to us that climate was becoming business critical. When we floated the company investors were not too interested in carbon emissions.”

He added that because of Drax’s high visibility in Yorkshire – it cover 1854 acres of land – “we can be seen for miles around so it’s important that we are viewed as an asset to the neighbourhood”.

Steve Austin, lead turbine engineer at Drax, said that Drax choose Siemens for the project because “we wanted someone with a credible record, someone who shared our vision and somebody who knew our turbines”.

Drax burns 10m tonnes a year of solid fuel. Of this, 1.3m tonnes was biomass last year, making Drax the largest single renewable generator in the UK.

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