U. of Manchester SB Chapter’s Update: Virtual Site Visit to Drax Power Station

IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) Student Branch Chapter at the University of Manchester (UoM) in collaboration with Drax Power Ltd. hosted a virtual site visit (webinar) on Thursday, 5th of August 2021 from 16:00-17:30 BST. The virtual visit was to Drax power generation system facilities, namely:

  • Drax Power Station (3.9GW) at Selby, North Yorkshire, England
  • Hydro Pumped Storage Cruachan Power Station (440MW) at Loch Awe, Scotland.

This webinar event attracted more than 120 registrations, with over 60 people in attendance.

Figure 1:  Event Flyer

A dedicated team from Drax Power Ltd. delivered four presentations, with each presentation session having a mix of technical talks, animated video demonstrations and Q&A interludes. This made the webinar very interesting and interactive. Presentations topics were centred on the use of biomass for power generation and Drax’s plant control centre operations. In addition, technical solutions and services provided by Drax in terms of renewables, carbon capture and storage, and carbon-negative aspirations were also discussed.

Mr. Leigh Hogan (Drax’s presentation team lead) kickstarted the event by speaking briefly on the history of Drax Power Station including its transition from a coal-fired station into a renewable biomass station that now supplies more than 6% of the UK’s electricity power needs (about 15 TWh per year). Technical details were presented on Drax’s biomass power generation processes, operation and assets with data analytics. The results highlight how the use of biomass pellets has helped reduce carbon emissions by 80% compared to the coal-fired generation.

Furthermore, other presentations addressed the importance of Drax Power Plant’s ancillary services and solutions to the national grid in terms of black-start operations, hydro pump storage operations at Cruachan Power Station and its overall improvement in reducing carbon emissions in meeting UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). Drax Power Ltd. is not only committed to a neutral carbon operation but proposes a detailed carbon-negative agenda using novel technologies, including carbon capture strategies, low carbon fuels (e.g. hydrogen) and permanent carbon dioxide storage solutions under the seabed.

Figure 2. Screenshots of presentations from the Drax team

The IEEE PES SBC at UoM would like to especially thank Drax Power Ltd and its presentation team for their informative and engaging presentation. We would also like to thank our participants for attending this event. Questions asked by the participants added value and colour to this event. The IEEE PES SBC at UoM is committed to hosting more similar high-quality events. Due to confidentiality issues, this event was not recorded. Nevertheless, please do visit the Drax Power website for more information.

Keyi Wang, Omoniyi Akinpelumi
IEEE PES Student Branch Chapter at the University of Manchester