Drax Group Plc

The British based electrical power generation company, Drax Group PLC was listed on the FTSE 100 Index on 15 December 2005. The operating subsidiary of Drax Group is Drax Power Limited. They are the owners of the Drax power station near Selby in North Yorkshire.

The group's main activity is operating the power station and trading the electricity produces.

Drax Group underwent financial restructuring in 2003 after its largest customer, TXU Europe went into administration. The financial difficulties that followed led to the separation of the owners AES Corporation with the company. Creditors decided to support a restructuring scheme and the company was then listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Drax Power Station

The Drax power station is a large coal fired power station producing around 7% of total demand for the UK, making it the largest single electricity generator in the United Kingdom. It is the second largest coal-fired plant in Europe.

Drax is the last coal-fired plant built in Britain by the Central Electricity Generating Board. The site was chosen to be near to the newly discovered Selby coalfields. The output capacity of the six generators is 4000 megawatts.

The plant was constructed in two phases with the first phase beginning generation in 1974 and the second phase in 1986.

As the station is coal fired, purchasing of the coal is a major part of the business. Drax buys around 10 million tonnes of coal each year. The coal purchased for the Drax power station is bought from both the UK and internationally. UK mined coal comes from various coal fields in the UK primarily from coalfields in Yorkshire, the Midlands and Scotland. Coal that is sourced internationally comes from countries including Russia, Australia, South Africa, Columbia and Poland.

Drax and the Environment

Drax has had to take steps to ensure safety to the environment and the site has often proved to be controversial. As a result, in 1998 Drax became the first power station to invest in retrofit FGD equipment. All the generators are fitted with flue gas desulphurisation equipment which is said to remove 90% of the sulphur dioxide from emissions.

The site is said to generate around 1.5 million tonnes of ash and 22.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, the biggest single source of CO2 emissions in the UK. Despite this Drax power is still the largest, cleanest and most efficient power station.

The introduction of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will mean that Drax power station will have to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide closely. Drax's steam turbines are also set to be replaced over the next four years in a bid to achieve a CO2 reduction of about 5%.

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