Drax aims to transform to cope with new paradigm

Drax is looking to move more into the renewable energy space in a bid to improve its fortunes in the face of a relentless global drive towards cleaner power.

It has already converted half of its coal-fired power plant to biomass and as well as looking to complete that process is aiming to do more with wind and solar energy.

In an interview, Dorothy Thompson, Group CEO, told the FT, “We are at a tipping point, the market has changed. We’ve got to the point where you have such a significant amount of wind and solar generation that the rest of the market has to work out how to support and keep that on the system.
Dorothy Thompson of Drax
Ms Thompson added that the company was looking “very seriously” at building gas “peaker” power plants that can fill the gaps when there is no wind or sun, as well as power storage systems.

The owner of the UK’s largest power plant is also challenging the big six energy companies by offering to supply green electricity and power-saving advice to the thousands of small and medium sized businesses it claims are “massively disappointed” with existing services.

Research commissioned by its fast-growing Haven Power supply business, which sells electricity from Drax’s power station to other companies, shows smaller businesses are so unhappy with existing energy suppliers that more than half want to switch providers as soon as possible.

The profitability of the company will improve if an EU decision on state aid facilitates another boiler to biomass conversion.

A positive decision is likely to boost Drax’s annual revenues by as much as £70m from next year, analysts estimate.



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