Jan 19 2018
UK private owned utility Drax is to convert a fourth 645MW unit to 100 percent biomass firing at its Selby power plant. After conversion the unit will return to service in late 2018.
The decision follows the results of a UK government consultation to control the cost of support for biomass under the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme.
A cap of 125,000 ROCs will be applied per RO-eligible non-grandfathered unit per obligation year. Stations will be able to optimise generation across units and decide whether they use a single unit or more than one unit to generate up to the level of their station cap. At stations comprising grandfathered and non-grandfathered units, grandfathered units will continue to earn ROCs in line with their existing entitlement. Generation can also be optimised between units so that if grandfathered units produce less than set out in the annual forecast published by Beis, the remainder of the forecast ROCs can be allocated to a non-grandfathered unit in addition to the unit’s cap.
This approach will allow units to operate at times of high system demand and low intermittent renewable output, Beis said.
The response would enable Drax to optimise its power generation from biomass across its three ROC units under the cap, whilst supporting the Government’s objective of controlling costs under the Renewable Obligation scheme, Drax commented.
Drax will now continue its work to deliver the low cost conversion of a fourth biomass unit, accelerating the removal of coal-fired generation from the UK electricity system, whilst supporting security of supply.
Drax plans to complete the work on this unit as part of a major planned outage in the second half of 2018, before returning to service in late 2018. The capital cost is significantly below the level of previous conversions, re-purposing the existing co-firing facility on site to deliver biomass to the unit.
Drax’s biomass-fired units 2 and 3 have grandfathered RO subsidies, while its biomass-fired unit 1 operates under the contracts for difference (CFD) subsidy scheme. Unit 4 is RO accredited but is not grandfathered under the scheme, so the cap will apply. Drax tested biomass at unit 4 for much of last summer.
“We welcome the government’s support for further sustainable biomass generation at Drax, which will allow us to accelerate the removal of coal from the electricity system, replacing it with flexible low-carbon renewable electricity”, Drax chief executive Will Gardiner said. (photo on top)
The unit is likely to operate at lower availability than the three existing 645MW biomass units, but the intention is to run it at periods of high demand.