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Power station boss warns against reliance on electricity imports

May 21, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Well, I suppose he would!! But the boss of Drax does have a point,

From the Grauniad:



Britain’s increasingly reliance on electricity imported from Europe threatens energy security and will import carbon emissions, according to the new boss of the country’s biggest power station.

Will Gardiner, chief executive of Drax Group, said that the growing proportion of power forecast to come from interconnectors – physical links to transfer electricity across borders – would also fail to deliver the aims of the government’s industrial strategy.


“The hot topic at the moment is what we do about interconnectors,” said Gardiner, who wants to build a vast new gas power and battery storage plant at the company’s North Yorkshire coal and biomass power station.

The government expects imports to supply 22% of electricity by 2025, up from 6% last year.

A slew of new electricity links are under construction or planned for the next decade between the UK and France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Germany.

Three of those recently won contracts in a “capacity market” auction of government subsidies for supplying backup power in the winter of 2021-22.

That drove contract prices too low to encourage large new gas plants to be built and saw two of Drax’s new small gas power stations miss out on contracts.

Gardiner said the prices were a win for consumers, but added that interconnectors failed on other measures.

“Improved security of supply is one of the objectives of the auction, and I don’t think interconnectors do that,” he said. “Will they show up when they’re called? Maybe they will.”

While energy debates are currently dominated by cost, Gardiner said ministers’ priorities were likely to swing back to security of supply, driven by events such as the “beast from the east” cold weather, which put pressure on the country’s energy system.

Gardiner said that because the UK carbon price was higher than on the continent, more electricity links meant the UK would be importing emissions. Interconnectors would not help the government’s industrial strategy, he said.

“Are they supporting things that will bring jobs and technology to the UK that will ultimately be exportable? I don’t think interconnectors meet that test. I think a new gas plant using next-generation battery technology at Drax does.”

Drax wants the government to further “derate” interconnectors in the capacity market, which would see them receive lower financial rewards.

Gardiner, Drax’s former chief financial officer, took over the reins at the company in January when Dorothy Thompson stepped down after 12 years, having converted half of the plant to burning biomass instead of coal.

In an interview with the Guardian, he said it was increasingly clear that electricity supplies globally and in the UK would be decarbonised by wind and solar.

Both technologies had cut costs with “breathtaking” speed, he said, adding that the flexibility of biomass made it a natural partner for renewables.

However, he ruled out diversifying into large solar and wind projects, saying other firms were better equipped.

Gardiner said the UK’s other low-carbon option, nuclear power, was too expensive.

“I am not a fan of sweetheart deals, the government sitting down with Hitachi and writing them a cheque. That’s not good economics,” he said, referring to Hitachi’s chairman meeting with Theresa May earlier this month to discuss a financial support package to build a new nuclear plant.

Drax hopes its gas and battery plant project will get planning permission next autumn. But giving the green light on the investment will hinge on whether the company can secure a capacity market contract in an auction in winter 2019.


I do have to laugh though when he says:

“I am not a fan of sweetheart deals, the government sitting down with Hitachi and writing them a cheque. That’s not good economics,” he said, referring to Hitachi’s chairman meeting with Theresa May earlier this month to discuss a financial support package to build a new nuclear plant.”

Could this be the same Drax that has a sweetheart deal of £111.29/MWh?



  1. Colin Brooks permalink
    May 21, 2018 5:03 pm

    We now have a government ignoring shale gas, shale oil and coal while we all watch the rest of the world feast on them, they will probably ignore methane hydrates as well what a bunch of idiots!

  2. David Richardson permalink
    May 21, 2018 5:03 pm

    Yes Paul – I guess it is the same Drax.

    Although, as much as I hate the whole bio-mass stupidity, government(s) have made it impossible for Drax to do otherwise.

    Burn coal and we will tax you out of business – burn wood and we will subsidise you to the hilt. Not much choice really is there.

  3. Athelstan permalink
    May 21, 2018 5:10 pm


    Okey dokey, er I dunno, say like importing wood pellets to burn in a converted coal generation plant – what about that? Before we shut our own mines hence OK we imported the coal but coal is a common resource and very exportable commodity, whereas wood pellets is a specialized import…which is the more dodgy idea??? Plus, er notwithstanding the fact that coal is a far better and efficient burn and per ton, produces less ash and CO₂ emissions what about that?

    I cry in anguished despair these green begoggled and political advocates, mentally ‘stretched’ purblinded dsorts (Gardiner) who argue from a very weak position and on a premise they know sweet fanny adams about.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      May 22, 2018 9:46 am

      They do strike me as being from the less intelligent part of the community……or descended from thieves and robbers. To expect France to bail us out is like asking Hitler to not bomb us, like I said stupid on viagra. He is obviously a good choice, perfectly in line with the woman who has gone, 11 years too late.

  4. markl permalink
    May 21, 2018 5:13 pm

    Gas plants with batteries? Say what? And “… UK would be decarbonised by wind and solar.
    Both technologies had cut costs with “breathtaking” speed….” I feel for the UK people. They are going down the same path as Australia.

    • HotScot permalink
      May 21, 2018 6:26 pm


      a glimmer of hope. Fracking is now being gently encouraged. Local authorities are being given permission by central government to stand up to the green blob.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      May 22, 2018 9:47 am

      Yes, we are really in trouble now!

  5. Joe Public permalink
    May 21, 2018 5:15 pm

    Remember folks, it’s by EU diktat that we must achieve (& pay for) interconnection of at least 10% of our installed electricity production capacity by 2020.

    Note it’s based upon ‘production capacity’ not actual use.

    So our 12GW of solar operating at 2% Capacity factor in January when most imports will be needed, means we’re lumbered with paying for 98% of that capacity we won’t need.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is “The EU is therefore looking into raising the target to 15% by 2030.”

    • Athelstan permalink
      May 21, 2018 5:27 pm

      I’ve yet to hear any good news issuing forth out ot the Soviet bloc of western EUropean states, never, never ever.

      Although, tractor productions statistics are always up and prices for moonbeam technology are going down and down.

      Meanwhile back on planet earth (maybe), the UK forges (if that is the correct term) probably should say, ‘hurtles’ towards energy policy ‘meltdown’ and all because the loonies (think claire perry/gardiner/Mrs May/corbyn et al) exhorting, explaining, believe that, the green agenda means endless jobs, energy security and and and and and and if you tell a lie often enough……………..and money grows on trees.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      May 22, 2018 6:48 am

      Unfortunately even after Brexit the UK will follow diktats from the UN on these things, and the UN is the dark force behind all of this.

      • Athelstan permalink
        May 22, 2018 7:27 am

        such a depressing retort, but you are quite right and make a good point!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 22, 2018 10:04 am

      The EU’s reasons are not this time stupid – until you get to the renewable bit.

      And the statement that: “More renewables also means more jobs – in 2012 the renewable energy and technology firms in the EU employed around 1.2 million people.”

      is pure lies.More jobs producing something we already produce with less cost (which labour is) means FEWER jobs overall. It has to, because the additional labour just makes energy more expensive, which means just about everything else we consume is more expensive. So we buy less of it and that less requires fewer jobs to make it.

  6. Bitter@twisted permalink
    May 21, 2018 5:37 pm

    So we better not import electricity, but it is fine to import virgin forest to be burnt at Drax.
    You couldn’t make it up!

  7. BLACK PEARL permalink
    May 21, 2018 8:15 pm

    Well those smart meters will sort it out once they’re forced into every household & business
    Plus maybe a new ‘APP’ for your phone to tell you how much time you have to make a cup of tea before your power is terminated due to lack of generation.
    The EU, Ed Millabands 2008 climate change act and a continuing host of spineless political animals have & continue to propagandise / restrict this country’s future ability & identity.
    Maybe going back to Gas lights or failing that. candles is the way to go

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      May 22, 2018 6:53 am

      I still have a couple of paraffin lamps and always a good stock of candles ready.

      Having grown up in a house lit by gas, paraffin and candle I fear the day when we return to that. Although on the bright side my mother was unaffected by miners strikes and three day weeks, she just carried on as normal. For me the thought living in permanent gloom for 7 months of the year again is depressing beyond belief.

  8. CheshireRed permalink
    May 21, 2018 9:30 pm

    Security of energy supply really should be a non-negotiable legal obligation and that means home-generated energy from 24/7/365 reliable, affordable sources. There should be a legal requirement to use the cheapest generation available which means coal and gas. They should be prioritised to ensure UK baseload demand is covered. Virtue signalling can wait. Any party that proposes and delivers on this will find it an instant vote-winner.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 22, 2018 10:00 am

      And where do we get our oil from then? Or is petrol not somehow really important to us?

      If others have surplus cheaper power, let’s have it.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        May 22, 2018 10:51 am

        “If others have surplus cheaper power, let’s have it”

        Unfortunately, since the “Others” are going down to same idiotic “Decarbonising” road as us, they soon won’t have any surplus power – at least not during winter when we need it most…

  9. May 21, 2018 9:46 pm

    Paul today Drax has being to doing PR, making out they are doing a magic CCS project
    Yorkshire Post fell for it
    But Look North played the Drax animation (which calls CO2 a pollutant) and then lo actually showed some proper scepticsm
    Then they air graphic which I guess is a Drax animation
    audio “the eventual plan is to take pollutants* from the power station then use a special solvent to collect from the CO2”
    (the graphic is marked CO2 gas ie the falseNarrative that CO2 is a pollutant)
    “Heat is then used to separate the CO2 from the solvent”
    “The solvent is then reused and the CO2 put into storage”
    (oh that easy is it ?)
    The BBC dialogue continues more sceptical “this is the holy grail, but it’s something that Drax has tried at and failed at in the past”
    “It yet to be said what Drax will do with the CO2, use for commercial purposes or even store it under the sea.”
    “”critics of Drax have said that this project ia a DISTRACTION from the bigger issue, that Drax gets £700m of public SUBSIDY every year to burn wood
    ..and there a lot of difference of scientific opinion about the burning of what Drax calls sustainable biomass
    (Reading from his phone) ..Claire Perry has said ‘we aim to make the UK a world leader in CCS’
    … The hope is that they can make this project work
    but it has to be stressed that it is very much in its infancy”

    • May 21, 2018 9:49 pm

      Min 27 has viewer feedback, a variety of anti-Drax and one windfarm lover

  10. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 22, 2018 12:51 am

    Among American colonists, one of the major issues with the home country was the King’s broad arrow mark on White Pine trees.

    Isn’t it odd that North American trees are again being cut down for a British use – that will not last.

    • Nigel S permalink
      May 22, 2018 8:53 am

      Thanks for the link, very interesting. Let’s hope you’re right that Drax wood burning stops soon!

  11. May 22, 2018 9:03 am

    Britain’s biggest CO2 emitter via wood-burning is worried about importing CO2 emissions?

    No, just promoting its own business.

    • dave permalink
      May 22, 2018 9:40 am

      And all to save some floating ice, three thousand miles North of us, from melting a week earlier in the summer – which ain’t happening anyway:

      The volume of the Arctic sea-ice is IDENTICAL to that of four years ago.

  12. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 22, 2018 9:58 am

    “Are they supporting things that will bring jobs and technology to the UK that will ultimately be exportable? I don’t think interconnectors meet that test.”

    Well thank goodness – it’s a dumb test.Jobs are created by having the cheapest and most efficient way of doing things. And who cares about exports? This bizarre focus on exports by everybody, from the government down is absurd. Imports are what matters, because imports are what we consume. It is increased production through increased productivity that makes us richer, not who sell the things we make to. If I sell my cars for 100 each to people in Leeds or 100 each to people in Lyon makes absolutely zero difference to me, or to the UK.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 22, 2018 11:54 am

      If we do not take care of our balance of payments through import substitution and exports, then we end up selling off or mortgaging our assets – our companies, our homes – to foreigners. We can only do that once, and while we do it, we progressively bleed our domestic economy as interest, profit, dividends and loan repayments go abroad instead of recirculating in the UK economy. We can try printing money IOUs for the foreigners instead, but the result would be a depreciating exchange rate that would hasten the economic crisis.

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