The Drax group which owns Drax power station has announced it is to build three biomass power stations at a cost of £2 billion. The company expects “attractive returns” and expects them to generate 900 megawatts of power compared to 4,000 megawatts from its coal power station.
Drax Chief executive Dorothy Thompson said “We believe our venture into dedicated bio-mass-fired generation underpins our commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of electricity generation from the continued, but necessary, reliance on fossil fuels, whilst delivering secure and reliable supplies of electricity.”
Greenpeace chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Biomass plants can help us in the fight against climate change, but only if they make the most of the waste heat they produce and use fuel from carefully chosen sources. Otherwise they’re cutting down trees, shipping them across the world and then throwing away the energy they get from them. Drax already owns the single most polluting power station in the UK, and if they fail to get the technology right on these power plants they could be making their carbon footprint bigger, not smaller.”
It is not going to be easy to meet the UK’s target of producing 20% of energy from renewables by 2020 and it would be ironic if we did it by increasing our carbon footprint. Nevertheless should we welcome Drax’s latest venture? I would think with a cautious yes.