Energy giant behind Scotland’s 'hollow mountain' power station generates £133 million

Drax Group, the energy giant that owns Scotland’s iconic “hollow mountain” power station, contributed £133 million towards the Scottish economy last year and supported 1,250 jobs, new research has revealed.

The independent analysis measured the economic impact of the company’s UK operations in 2021, including the famous Cruachan Power Station, near Oban in Argyll - an underground pumped hydro storage plant which acts like a giant water battery to balance the country’s power grid.

The Oxford Economics study comes as Drax plans to invest some £2.5 billion in its green energy projects in the UK this decade, supporting security of supply and the UK’s net zero ambitions. Those plans include building the first new pumped storage hydro power station in the UK in more than 40 years at the existing Cruachan site.

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Thousands of jobs could start being created by these projects in just a couple of years’ time, with work on the new Cruachan scheme potentially starting as soon as 2024. Some 900 jobs would be supported during six years of construction across the supply chain in a range of industries from quarrying and engineering, to transport and hospitality.

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Ian Kinnaird, Drax’s Scottish assets director, said: “Not only is Drax playing a critical role in keeping the lights on for millions of homes and businesses across the country, but we are also proud to be supporting more than 1,000 jobs in Scotland and contributing millions of pounds to the economy at a time when it is under severe pressure.

“With the right support from government, Drax stands ready to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in developing Cruachan 2 so we can do even more for our communities and the climate. Not only will extending Cruachan enable more wind power to come online, but it will also support hundreds of jobs during construction and bolster UK energy security.”

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Stephen Foreman, associate director at Oxford Economics, said: “Our research demonstrates the significant contribution that a large and successful British company like Drax Group can make to the global economy.

“Drax Group’s operations in the UK, the US and Canada generated £3.1bn in GDP [gross domestic product] in 2021 and supported over 35,000 jobs across these three markets. We also find that the activity generated by Drax’s power stations, pellet plants and corporate offices, is having a positive impact on local communities across the UK, the US and Canada.”

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Drax Group's pumped storage, hydro and energy-from-waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.

Jobs supported by the company’s activities across the UK covered a wide range of sectors including high-skilled manufacturing of industrial components, engineering and technical machinery, IT, professional business services and transporting goods.

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Drax owns and operates a portfolio of electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies 5 per cent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. The group has around 3,000 employees.

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