CEO view: Dorothy Thompson, Drax Group
"Drax is at the forefront of the green revolution."
Drax is a leading green generator, and with the acquisiton of Opus Energy a retail player too.
Over the past decade renewable energy has transformed the way we power our homes and businesses. The technology used has improved and as a result the capacity from renewables has dramatically increased, as shown by our recent Drax Electric Insights report.
The once coal-dominated energy system in the UK is changing, but there is still a long way to go before we can maintain security of supply without using some coal.
As we welcome increased amounts of wind and solar – renewables that are key to our transition away from coal – we also require more alternative technologies that can plug the gap when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
At Drax we have already upgraded half of our generating units to run on sustainable biomass, a renewable fuel which generates power that can also be dialled up and down to meet demand. Like coal, it can provide the ancillary services the grid needs to stay stable. Drax now produces enough renewable electricity to power three million homes.
But we haven’t stopped there. Drax is developing plans to build four new state-of-the-art, rapid response power stations – two in England and two in Wales. It’s the next step for us in helping change the way energy is generated for a better future.
Each of these new open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) projects will be 299MW in size and able to switch from “cold” to “full power” in just ten minutes. This will help plug the gaps when intermittent renewables aren’t available – we will effectively flick a switch on or off at very short notice – delivering power and boosting security of supply. The first two of these rapid response power stations could be up and running and producing electricity by 2022. And because gas is a more flexible fuel than coal, it will allow more coal to come off the system quicker.
This new future will not only mean changes for us, the generators, but for customers too.
How energy is supplied and used is evolving, and this is something that Drax can support with the growing retail side of our business.
We’re a company with a wealth of expertise in renewable power and we can use this to help deliver electricity to business customers in a way that caters for today’s market. We’re already doing this with Haven Power, but now we’re extending this with the acquisition of Opus Energy, a leading challenger brand for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
As recent research commissioned by Haven Power showed earlier this year, most SMEs want to be supplied with renewable energy but can’t find a supplier to provide it – that is now set to change with our acquisition of Opus Energy.
Our retail offering will also provide businesses with a route to sell the power they generate but do not need – plus expertise in how they can use energy more efficiently.
The UK energy system is changing and so is Drax. We plan to help change the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future.
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