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UK: First converted (coal-biomass) unit at Drax opened by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey has today (09 December) opened the Drax coal-to-biomass conversion plant, a £700 million project to convert three of the site’s six coal-fired generators into a wood pellet-fed source of green energy.

Today the first of the three generators was opened for operation, and Drax estimates that the change in feedstock will reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared to coal.

The facility, based in Shelby North Yorkshire, will provide enough low carbon electricity to power around one million homes, and is expected to safeguard 1,200 jobs. The adaptation of the generating units to a source of sustainable biomass will see the site’s emissions reduce by around 10 million tonnes a year.

Drax secured financing at the end of last year enabling a 700 million pound ($1.1 billion) investment plan involving a switch to using wood pellets instead of coal, which produces more carbon for generating electricity than wood pellets.

Davey also announced government funding to further the 426MW White Rose coal power plant with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project. White Rose is the first development to be allocated funds under the government’s £1 billion CCS Commercialisation Programme.

The project, which will be located on the Drax site and has been co-developed by Drax, Alstom and BOC, will be the largest oxy combustion plant in the world; it will capture approximately two million tonnes of carbon emissions a year, around 90 per cent of all emissions produced by the plant.