Drax Group, the renewables-focused power company that is also fighting the corner for biomass in the UK’s energy market, says it contributed £120 million to Scotland’s economy last year and supported 1,700 jobs across the country.
The findings are in a new report commissioned from Oxford Economics, which calculated direct activity of the group, activity and employment within the supply chain, and spending by all employees involved. On this basis, Drax contributed £1.2 billion to the UK economy as a whole, supporting 14,150 jobs.
Drax has no direct operations in Scotland, but has traditionally bought in coal via the Hunterston Terminal on Scotland’s west coast.
More recently, however, it has worked with Scottish-based firms including Doosan Power Systems in Renfrew and Aberdeen on biomass conversion and emission control projects.
The report said Drax’s total procurement with suppliers in Scotland reached £73m last year, including £24m directly related to biomass conversion.
The group owns what was once the UK’s biggest coal plant, but has converted three of its six units in North Yorkshire to biomass. Billed as Europe’s largest decarbonisation project, Drax says it stands ready to upgrade the remainder of the power station to burning wood pellets if its gets “the right support from government”.
The latest report comes amid an uncertain period for energy generation in the UK, with the government reviewing whether to drop support for Electricite de France’s planned new £18bn nuclear station in Somerset being undertaken with the Chinese, potentially creating an energy gap.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is currently reviewing whether the billions of pounds in UK government subsidies that Drax is receiving to covert to biomass is a breach of rules on state aid.
Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax, said that the “vast majority” of jobs supported by the group across the UK were the result of plant upgrades to burn wood pellets.