Ambassador Johnson; Drax Group's CEO Will Gardiner; and Stan Phillips, agricultural counselor.
Rebecca Wayman

US ambassador visits UK's biggest power station in Yorkshire

US ambassador Robert Wood Johnson visited Drax Power Station, near Selby, to learn more about the UK’s largest power station and its contribution to the UK economy.

Mr Johnson, the ambassador of the USA to the UK had a tour of the power station and heard about how Drax upgraded two thirds of its generating units to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, to become the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Around 60 per cent of the biomass used by Drax to produce enough renewable electricity for four million households, comes from the sustainable working forests of the US South - making it the biggest importer of US agricultural products.

Drax also operates three pellet plants in the south of the US, which produce biomass for the power station in North Yorkshire.

Mr Johnson said: “Being here at Drax has been fascinating - the scale of the place is incredible, and the innovative projects and new technology being trialled here are very exciting.

“Drax makes a really important contribution to the US economy - I am pleased to be here to mark the important investment they make.”

Mr Johnson met with Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner and Drax Power CEO Andy Koss to hear about the transformation of the power station and their plans for the future.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Ambassador to Drax Power Station to celebrate the successful transatlantic relationship between Drax and the US, which plays a vital role in enabling us to source the biomass needed to produce enough flexible, renewable power for millions of homes and businesses.

“We play a valuable role in the communities where we operate in the US, creating jobs and breathing new life into areas previously affected by industrial decline.

“Since the acquisition of a third pellet mill we now employ almost 250 people over there, with plans to grow our self-supply of biomass so we’re producing up to 30 per cent of the pellets used at the power station.”

They also outlined proposals to repower the two remaining coal units to use gas and develop up to 200MW of battery storage, as well as the proposed £702m acquisition of some of Scottish Power’s flexible and renewable power generation assets, including pumped storage and hydro, which Drax announced recently.

Drax contributed around £1.7bn in GDP to the UK economy and supported more than 18,500 jobs here in 2016. That included more than £500m to the Northern Powerhouse’s regional economy and support for 6,000 jobs here.

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