Drax Group

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Drax Group plc
TypePublic limited company
LSEDRX
IndustryElectrical power generation
Founded2005
HeadquartersDrax, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Key people
Phil Cox CBE, Chairman
Will Gardiner, Chief Executive
ProductsElectrical power and byproducts of power product
RevenueDecrease £4,235.0 million (2020)[1]
Increase £188.7 million (2020)[1]
Decrease £(157.9) million (2020)[1]
Number of employees
3,015 (2020)[2]
Websitewww.drax.com

Drax Group PLC is a power generation business. The principal downstream enterprises are based in the UK and include Drax Power Limited, which runs a biomass-fuelled power station, Drax power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire. The Group also runs an international biomass supply chain business. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

History[edit]

In 1990, the electricity industry of England and Wales was privatised under the Electricity Act 1989. Three generating companies and 12 regional electricity companies were created. As a result of privatisation, Drax Power Station came under the ownership of National Power, one of the newly formed generating companies. Over the years that followed privatisation, the map of the industry changed dramatically. One significant change was the emergence of vertically integrated companies, combining generation, distribution and supply interests. In certain cases, it became necessary for generation assets to be divested, and so in 1999 Drax Power Station was acquired by the US-based AES Corporation for £1.87 billion (US$3 billion).[3] A partial re-financing of Drax was completed in 2000, with £400 million of senior bonds being issued by AES Drax Holdings, and £267 million of subordinated debt issued by AES Drax Energy.[4]

Increased competition, over-capacity and new trading arrangements contributed to a significant drop in wholesale electricity prices, which hit an all-time low in 2002. Many companies experienced financial problems, and Drax Power Station's major customer went into administration, triggering financial difficulties for Drax. Following a series of standstill agreements with its creditors, the AES Corporation and Drax parted company in August 2003.[5] During the restructuring, a number of bids were received from companies wishing to take a stake in the ownership of Drax, but creditors voted overwhelmingly to retain their interest in Drax. In December 2003, the restructuring was completed and Drax came under the ownership of a number of financial institutions.[6]

Almost exactly two years later, on 15 December 2005, Drax underwent a re-financing and shares in Drax Group plc were listed on the London Stock Exchange for the first time.[7]

In 2009, Drax Group acquired Haven Power [8] – enabling it to sell electricity directly. In 2015, the Group acquired Billington Bioenergy, specialists in providing sustainable biomass pellets for domestic energy systems.[9]

In 2016, Drax Group acquired Opus Energy for £340 million funded by a new acquisition debt facility of up to £375 million.[10] In October 2017, Drax sold Billington Bioenergy for £2 million to an AIM-listed energy company.[11]

On 16 October 2018, Drax Group announced that it had agreed to acquire Scottish Power's portfolio of pumped storage, hydro and gas-fired generation for £702 million in cash from Iberdrola, subject to shareholder approval.[12] Drax confirmed that approval had been granted on 1 January 2019. The acquisition brings with it Cruachan pumped storage power station, Rye House power station, Damhead Creek power station, Galloway hydro-electric power scheme, Lanark Hydro Electric Scheme, Shoreham Power Station and Blackburn Mill power station.[13]

On 15 December 2020, Drax Group announced the sale of Rye House, Damhead Creek, Shoreham and Blackburn Mill to VPI Holdings for £193.3m.[14]

On 13 April 2021, Drax announced that it had completed the acquisition of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.[15]

Operations[edit]

Drax Power Station

Drax Group's key asset is Drax Power Station. Originally built, owned and operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), Drax Power Station was constructed and commissioned in two stages. Stage one (units 1, 2 and 3) was completed in 1974.[16] Some 12 years later in 1986, stage two (units 4, 5 and 6) was completed.[16] Drax was the last coal-fired power station to be built in the UK, and was initially designed to use low-sulphur coal from the nearby Selby coalfield in six generating units. Each unit has a capacity of 660 MW when burning coal, giving a total capacity of just under 4 GW. This made Drax the largest power station in the UK.[16] The power station claims to be making carbon savings of 86 per cent compared to burning coal[17] – above the European Commission's best practice benchmark of 70 per cent.[18]

Related enterprises include Drax Biomass (which specialises in producing biomass pellets to be used to generate electricity and fuel domestic heating systems),[19] Baton Rouge Transit (which is responsible for storing and loading the biomass at the Port of Baton Rouge),[20] Haven Power (an electricity supplier)[21] and Opus Energy (a supplier of gas and electricity to businesses across the United Kingdom).[22]

Controversies[edit]

The company has attracted a series of protests in the past: (i) a climate camp on 31 August 2006, attended over 600 people protesting against the high carbon emissions: 39 people were arrested after trying illegally to gain access to the plant,[23] (ii) a train protest on 13 June 2008, attended by 30 climate change campaigners who halted an EWS coal train en route to the station,[24] and (iii) a worker strike on 18 June 2009, when up to 200 contractors walked out of or failed to show up in a wildcat strike.[25] Also in October 2011 a fire started by spontaneous combustion in a stockpile at the Port of Tyne biomass facility.[26] Another fire occurred at the same facility in a conveyor transfer tower in October 2013.[27]

A "virtual protest" was held in April 2020 by campaigners, Biofuelwatch, which claims that Drax is the UK's largest emitter of carbon dioxide and that the wood pellets Drax burns are leading to the destruction of forests in the southern United States.[28] Protestors also claim that the company is burning more wood than any other power station in the world.[29]

The company is proposing to build a new 3.6 GW gas-fired power plant at Selby which is expected to produce 75% of the UK's power sector emissions once the plant is underway.[30] A protest took place outside the company's offices in London in July 2019[31] and further protests took place in Yorkshire in August 2020.[29] Protestors claim that the company is asking for substantial subsidies to operate the new plant "in addition to the £2.36 million a day it already receives for burning biomass."[29] After ministers overruled objections from the planning authority and decided to approve the plant, a legal challenge was brought against the ministerial decision but failed in the courts in January 2021.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2020" (PDF). Drax Group. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Annual Report 2020" (PDF). Drax Group. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  3. ^ "AES buys Drax power plant". Global Trade News. 20 October 1999. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Drax gets high and mighty". IJ Global. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  5. ^ "AES withdraws support for Drax restructuring". Global Trade News. 26 August 2003. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Drax creditors vote to hold on to plant". The Telegraph. 11 December 2003. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Drax listing signals strong market for IPOs". FT.com. 2 January 2006.
  8. ^ "Drax Group finds a haven". Growth Business. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Drax branches out into renewable heat market with wood pellet firm deal". Incisive Business Media Limited. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Drax Group acquisition of Opus Energy". Walbrock Research. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  11. ^ Ltd, Insider Media. "Drax sells wood pellet business". Insider Media Ltd. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  12. ^ "Drax Acquisition of UK power generation portfolio – Company Announcement - FT.com". markets.ft.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  13. ^ "Completion of deal means Drax will play bigger role at heart of Great Britain's energy system". Drax. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  14. ^ "Sale of gas assets for £193.3 million". Drax. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  15. ^ "Drax Completes Acquisition of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc". Globe News Wire. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  16. ^ a b c "Drax Power Station". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  17. ^ "The Biomass Story" (PDF). Drax Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  18. ^ "Commission Staff Working Document State of play on the sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass used for electricity, heating and cooling in the EU (page 20)" (PDF). European Commission. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  19. ^ Gow, David (19 March 2004). "Drax goes green with willow". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  20. ^ "New biomass terminal planned for Port of Liverpool". www.worldcoal.com. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Haven Power to provide Thames Water with renewable energy". Herald scotland. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Drax buys supplier Opus Energy for £340m". BBC. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  23. ^ Brown, Jonathan (1 September 2006). "The Battle of Drax: 38 held as protest fails to close plant". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  24. ^ Wainwright, Martin (14 June 2008). "Coal train ambushed near power station in climate change protest". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  25. ^ "Wildcat strike spreads across Britain". The Daily Telegraph. London. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  26. ^ Butcher, Jonathan (31 October 2011). "Firefighters battle huge biomass fire at Port of Tyne". The Journal. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Port of Tyne fire: Tower blaze 'under control'". BBC News Tyne and Wear. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  28. ^ "Virtual protest held over Drax power station biomass". BBC. 22 April 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  29. ^ a b c "Extinction Rebellion set to hold protests against Drax Power Station". Yorkshire Post. 11 August 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Legal bid to stop UK building Europe's biggest gas power plant fails". The Guardian. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Climate protesters target SSE and Drax gas plant sites". Energy Live News. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2021.

External links[edit]