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Drax set to be a world leader in use of renewable energy

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YORKSHIRE in the United Kingdom will be home to one of the largest renewable plants in the world when the £700m biomass project at Drax power station is complete, the operator has claimed.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, chief executive Dorothy Thompson said the first of the units to be converted to biomass is working “beautifully” and is producing enough electricity to power a city the size of Leeds.

She launched a strong defence of biomass against critics who question the environmental credentials of shipping wood products from around the world to be burnt in Britain.

Ms Thompson also warned of “a serious risk that the UK could have a very tight supply situation in electricity by the middle of the decade” and welcomed Government plans to reform the energy market, which are being debated this week.

Drax raised funding last year for its programme to convert three of six units at the station to burn biomass instead of coal. The company converted the first unit on April 2 after two years of technical trials.

Depending on Government policy, Drax will convert all six to biomass, said Ms Thompson.

She added: “We think we are a key part of the UK achieving its renewable targets. We are low cost, secure renewable. We think of ourselves as being a perfect complement to wind.”

Once the three units are converted by the second half of 2014, Drax will be burning 7-8m tonnes of biomass a year and will contribute to around 10 per cent of Government clean energy targets for 2020, said Ms Thompson.

She defended the use of the energy source, which Drax imports from North America, southern Europe and the Baltics, mostly in the form of wood pellets.

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