Last week SHD Logistics' project editor Kirsty Adams attended an event at Drax Power Station to learn more on Europe’s largest decarbonisation project and the supply chain behind it.
Drax Power Station in Selby, North Yorkshire, is the UK’s largest power station and Europe’s largest decarbonisation project. Over the last decade, Drax has upgraded half of the Power Station to run on sustainable high density wood pellets instead of coal, and is now the UK’s biggest generator of renewable energy.
The biomass – fuel made from low grade wood and residues sourced from working forests and timber processing operations – is sourced from around the world, primarily North America and Europe. In order to make this possible, Drax has upgraded and repurposed existing infrastructure to support a dedicated supply chain for transporting the wood pellets to the power station in Yorkshire.
It has met the challenge of supporting a dedicated supply chain from source to store by lending new, innovative solutions to existing infrastructure and networks. It has reutilised previously inoperative rail lines to transport compressed wood pellets to the port at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It's also repurposing the infrastructure involved in storing and transporting the pellets at the Baton Rouge port.
Drax is also working with UK ports to modify terminals and enable a more efficient docking and unloading process for incoming ships.
Following a tour of the power station, head of supply chain & logistics Graham Backhouse, explained Drax's work with Network Rail. The two companies have worked together to coordinate the train times on commuter lines to ensure Drax trains can fit into existing rail network ‘slots’ to deliver the required amount of biomass to the power station.
Grahame explained the company's objective of 'using what's already there' in regards to infrastructure which transports 25,000 tonnes of wood pallets per week. We were informed that 'it's more sustainable to ship wood pellets in from Louisiana than Scotland' using its dedicated supplty chain. Trains arrive 24/7 just-in-time at the former coal station and operations are likely to increase, if the remaining four coal units are converted to biomass - which is the aim of chief executive Dorothy Thompson CBE - who joined us towards the end of the day to share the company's vision and answer our questions.