US biomass provides UK with renewable energy

SELBY, UK: March 2019. A partnership between the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire and Davis Wagon Services (DWS) is using specially designed rail wagons carrying biomass sourced in the US to produce renewable electricity for millions of UK homes.

DWS, a North Lincolnshire-based rail firm, has also invested £850,000 in revamping a mothballed Ferrybridge Yorkshire rail yard as a dedicated site to rebrand and maintain the power station’s fleet of 225 unique freight wagons.

Company managing director John Hall said the Drax project has provided an opportunity to create more jobs with an expansion of maintenance work at the site.

“I’m immensely proud of the team here and at Drax for what we have achieved working together. The success of the project has given huge confidence to our people and the business. We can now look at fully utilising the yard and taking on heavier maintenance, which could reduce the need to outsource work.

“That would bring immediate benefits both in reducing our carbon footprint, as we could do the work on-site, so we wouldn’t have to send wagons elsewhere, and also in securing the employment we currently have and creating more roles in the future.”

Since converting two thirds of its generators to use biomass instead of coal, Drax has become the largest decarbonisation project in Europe, producing enough renewable electricity for four million homes.

Drax owns and operates three pellet mills in the US that manufacture compressed wood pellets (biomass) produced from sustainably managed working forests. The mills supply around 20 percent of the biomass used by Drax that is delivered via the UK ports of Immingham, Hull, Port of Tyne and Liverpool.

Up to 17 trains a day six days a week deliver the pellets to Drax using DWS. Each train contains sufficient fuel to provide 815 houses in the UK with enough electricity for a year.

According to Drax Power CEO Andy Koss, the rail project has saved using 270,000 trucks per year and over 32,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions: “Not only has it supported a local business and revitalised a disused facility but these rail wagons also play a vital role in helping to ensure Drax receives the biomass we need to produce renewable electricity for millions of homes and businesses,” he added.