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May 19, 2008

Alstom to build large biomass-processing facility in U.K.

Gerald Ondrey

Drax Group plc (, a power generation business, and Alstom (Paris, France;, a global leader in power generation technology, have today announced the signing of an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, of some £50 million, between Drax Power Ltd. (Drax; and Alstom Power Ltd. to build the main processing works associated with the 1.5 million m.t./yr biomass co-firing facility to be constructed at the 4,000 MW Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire. The processing works will receive, handle, store and process various biomass materials ready for direct injection into the power station’s coal-fired boilers. Drax expects to award contracts for the direct-injection equipment and the rail unloading facility in the next few months.

The contract has been awarded following a competitive tender process and marks the first major project for Alstom at Drax. Work begins immediately to prepare the site for construction which is scheduled to start in the second half of 2008. Commissioning of phase one of the project will be completed towards the end of 2009.

The completed project, which at 400MW is believed to be the largest biomass co-firing project in the world, is part of Drax’s commitment to tackling climate change through reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide by 15%, while underlining Alstom’s proven track record in supplying biomass co-firing technology to large-scale coal-fired power plants. 

Co-firing, the blending and burning of renewable biomass materials with coal, is a recognised carbon abatement technology that has significant potential to reduce the emissions of CO2 from coal-fired power stations.  Over the last five years, Drax has developed the capability to co-fire renewable biomass materials with coal and has set itself the challenging target to produce 10% of its output from co-firing, the equivalent output of around 500 wind turbines, which will reduce its emissions of CO2 by over 2 million m.t. each year.

Drax Power Station is also making good progress with its turbine upgrade project, which when complete will deliver a further one million tonnes saving in CO2 emissions.  Combined with achieving its 10% co-firing target, Drax is set to reduce its annual emissions of CO2 by 15% (based on current output levels) by 2011.

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