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Drax signs £40 million contract with Siemens for turbine upgrades

Drax Power Ltd, a subsidiary of UK power utility major Drax Group plc and operator of the biggest power station in the country, has announced that it has signed a new GBP40 million contract with Germany-headed global technology major Siemens AG for the upgrade of turbines on three of its biomass units over the next three years. The upgrades will deliver efficiencies, as well as maintenance savings, which will cut the cost of biomass power production at the plant in Selby, North Yorkshire.

Turbine maintenance at Drax Power Station. The company has signed a new GBP40 million contract with Siemens for turbine upgrades for three of its biomass power units (photo courtesy Drax).

The work, which starts in 2019, will take three years to complete, with one biomass unit being upgraded each year as part of its planned major overhaul. The efficiencies will be gained by fitting new, high tech pipework and valves, with new high efficiency blading and long life seals within the turbines on biomass units 1, 2 and 3.

Siemens and Drax have a long-standing and proud partnership so it’s fantastic that we will now help them further develop their biomass solution. Once delivered this project will improve plant efficiency and flexibility and provide a further source of low carbon power to UK homes, businesses and services, said Darren Davidson, Managing Director, Power Generation Services, Power and Gas, Siemens

Since transforming half of the power station to run on wood pellets instead of coal and with plans to pilot Europe’s first bioenergy carbon capture storage (CCS) project, it has become Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project – and the UK’s largest single-site renewable power generator. A significant share of the pellets is produced by its US subsidiary Drax Biomass Inc., that operates three productions plants in the US southeast.

Drax has upgraded three of its six coal-fired units to run on biomass with a fourth unit currently being converted – due to return to service later in the summer. It also plans to repower its remaining two units to use gas and develop up to 200 MW of battery storage. The cost of the upgrades is within Drax’s existing plans with payment upon completion of the works.

“We firmly believe that biomass has a long-term role to play in the UK’s energy infrastructure. We’re looking at a number of ways to bring down the costs of our biomass generation – and these turbine upgrades are an important part of that work. Reducing the costs of our biomass operations will help to preserve the life of the plant and protect jobs, whilst we continue to produce the flexible, renewable power millions of homes and businesses rely on,” said Andy Koss, CEO, Drax Power (photo courtesy Drax).

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