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Drax Subsidies Cost £789m Last Year

May 4, 2020

By Paul Homewood




Northeast of Drax - - 581958.jpg

Drax Power Station


Drax have recently published their latest Annual Accounts for 2019.

They reveal another year of obscene subsidies for their biomass business, with ROCs earning £528m and CfDs an extra £261m:






Biomass generation totalled 13.3 TWh last year, so a total subsidy of £789m works out at £59/MWh, on top of the money they receive from selling the electricity they sell.

  1. May 4, 2020 2:11 pm

    Trees must be incredibly expensive to need that much subsidy.

  2. Ariane permalink
    May 4, 2020 2:29 pm

    My Green Councillor is keen on Michael Moore’s films so I look forward to reading her comments on Planet of the Humans.

  3. Tonyb permalink
    May 4, 2020 2:29 pm

    Subsidies? Shame on you, surely you meant wise investments in clean green renewable energy?

  4. May 4, 2020 2:35 pm

    What can motivate those in charge to Greenery: corruption, ignorance, laziness, or stupidity?
    Ir’s certainly not public spiritedness or humanity born of intelligent appraisal of the chances of the Greens’ warnings or predictions coming true.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      May 4, 2020 3:34 pm

      All four, along with an unshakable belief that their view of the world is right….

  5. May 4, 2020 3:31 pm

    The folly and madness of politicians has no bounds; common sense is an alien quality to them. Communists, marxists, Labour, Conservative, Liberal, it matters not their stupidity is spread throughout but one thing is certain, the ordinary population are derived and impoverished whilst the politicians reward themselves for their numerous follies. How many hundreds of thousands of acres of forest has been destroyed to feed Drax Power Station with wood chips? The destruction of fauna and wild life is conveniently ignored. Those creating this madness are rewarded by huge salaries and pensions, even knighthoods are dished out.

    • sonofametman permalink
      May 4, 2020 10:13 pm

      I found this

      which gives an average of 41 tons of tree biomass per acre of forest in the US.
      So, 7.5 million tons means roughly 179,000 acres of forest clear cut, or 280 square miles.
      That’s 280 square miles every year, which on a 30 year cropping cycle would require 8,370 square miles of forest. On a 100 year cycle it would be 28,000 square miles. I don’t know what the cropping cycle for the forest being chopped for Drax is, but some suggest they are 100 year old trees.
      The land area of the UK is nearly 94,000 square miles, so just to feed Drax’s 2.6 GW biomass burn, it would take somewhere between 9 and 30% of the UK land area. And that’s only one power station out of many. How in any way is biomass burning for electricity thought of as sustainable?
      Can’t our policy makers do arithmetic ?
      The subsidy-collecting ‘Green’ industrialists certainly can.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        May 5, 2020 11:22 am

        It is a bit more complex given that the woodburners are taking a lot of brash from forestry operations which would otherwise have no value. They also take thinnings which again would not have much value. All the estates I have visited are producing timber for the wood market and not for biomass. The woodburning market has given some value to trees that are not required – ie clearing out softwood from a Forestry Commission post war plantation to leave beech and other hardwoods. The exception was the Goodwood Estate that was using its timber exclusively for biomass for the estate buildings.

  6. May 4, 2020 3:47 pm

    Overlooking the vital fact of the negligible manmade CO2 release by UK-one third of 1% of the global total-is the first item of their Green utter folly.

  7. Harcourt permalink
    May 4, 2020 4:13 pm

    Could someone please confirm – or not – my understanding that the CO2 released by the burning of biomass at Drax and elsewhere in the UK is rated as zero when calculating our CO2 emissions. I also understand that this is allowed under the UNFCCC for all other countries based on the logic that wood pellets (as in Drax) and other biomass consumed by electricity generators is replaced by planting new trees which will supposedly re-absorb the CO2 emissions over the next several decades. So we are deliberately increasing emissions now in the expectation they will be re-aborbed by 2050 or 2060?

    However, according to that paragon of climate science, Extinction Rebellion, and other supporters of the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis the world will be far too hot by then for civilisation to have survived.

    Is their something they know that we don’t?

    • May 4, 2020 6:07 pm

      Yes, you’ve got it in one, Drax’s CO2 from burning biomass is excluded from national figures, and indeed the same applied across the EU

      The logic is that they will be reabsorbed when the forest regrows

      • May 4, 2020 7:05 pm

        I understand that the saplings that are planted to replace the felled trees take 35 years to reach their predecessors CO2 absorbtion ability, so someone has got their sums wrong. I watched Michael Moore’s ‘The Human Planet’ last week and the devastation of the USA woodlands was horrendous and no mention or filmed evidence was made concerning the planting of new trees.

        The logic of felling, drying, pulverising and reconstituting the chips into pellets using fossil fuels, transporting them to ports in the USA shipping them across the Atlantic, again using fossil fuels, to UK power stations to produce 70% of the heat energy that Anthracite coal which is locally mined totally eludes me.

        Subsidising it adds financial loss to stupidity, there is no way that this process can save a trace gas from entering the atmosphere.

        Apparently 7.5 millions tons of biomass is shipped to the UK every year from the USA. As has already been mentioned, this vast amount of de-forestation must be having a devastating effect on wildlife and the environment. At some point we will see The Law of Unintended Consequences being enacted and on the massive scale that this farce is proceeding, that is something we should be very, very concerned about.

      • Bertie permalink
        May 5, 2020 4:45 pm

        I nearly suffered a seizure when I read this. Beyond comprehension.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      May 4, 2020 6:43 pm

      Wonderful ain’t it? When you’re the rule-maker you can literally make it up as you go along.

      PS Paul, have you seen the EU’s new definition of fossil fuels is for solids only, eliminating gas and oil as fossil fuels! Handy! It’s on GWPF. With any luck the Guardian will spontaneously combust.

  8. Devoncamel permalink
    May 4, 2020 4:36 pm

    Assuming a UK population of 66m, that’s approximately £12 per year for every person. Nice little earner, which is the whole point.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 4, 2020 4:50 pm

      And as we worked out the other day, an area the size of about Wales set aside as a pine plantation.

  9. May 4, 2020 4:41 pm

    It’s only £2.16million per day, or £90k per hour, or £1,500 per minute, or £25 per second. Nice money if you can get it.

    I wonder how much money they are getting for every tonne of CO2 they emit? I guess I could work it out, but I can’t be bothered.

    Somebody should write to the government and ask “As you have declared a climate emergency, why are you forcing electricity consumers to subsidise Drax £XXX for every tonne of CO2 it emits?”

    • May 4, 2020 10:24 pm

      I make the annual emissions c. 3,860,000 t C. So it’s only a couple of quid per tonne, a tenner per tonne of CO2.

      • May 4, 2020 10:30 pm

        Of course, I could have compared billions to millions! Big numbers. Multiply what I said by 1000.

      • May 4, 2020 10:35 pm

        Final answer? No, can I cross it out and start again? Multiply what I said by 100. I was comparing hundreds of millions with millions.

  10. May 4, 2020 5:00 pm

    Would be interesting to see how that subsidy alone ranks in order of UK company size by revenue.

  11. Jonathan Scott permalink
    May 4, 2020 6:43 pm

    Oh how GWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN they are gush gush oh sathing the pwanet we have to gib them thubthides….. If it was not so serious it would be a script for a black commedy!

  12. jack broughton permalink
    May 4, 2020 7:28 pm

    While I agree fully that the notion that some CO2 source count and other sources do not is double-duckspeak, the one positive is that the eco-loons leave Drax operating. If / when sense prevails it will be able to take advantage of the low cost coal that is available on the world markets.

  13. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 4, 2020 9:39 pm

    Have the managers at Drax watched ‘Planets of the Humans’.

  14. May 4, 2020 10:17 pm

    I posted this a few weeks back on cliscep:

    1. Quantity of wood pellets burnt: Four of Drax’s 6 generating units now burn wood pellets. Its website says it receives 130,000 tonnes of pellets a week, which scaling up by 52 weeks gives 6,760,000 tonnes per year.

    Drax owns 3 pelleting plants in the US, 2 in Louisiana and 1 in Mississippi (or is it the other way around?). Between them they have an output of 1,500,000 tonnes, about 22% of Drax’s needs, if all their product went to Selby. From the pelleting plants, trucks take the fuel to (I seem to remember) Baton Rouge, & from there it’s onto a cargo vessel for the 10,000 km voyage to Immingham. A train covers the remaining distance.

    The reason I began to look into Drax was because someone on the internet somewhere claimed that Drax burnt wood at a faster rate than all of UK forestry could supply it. At the time I looked this up, and found the assertion to be true. However, my numbers were faulty. Deliveries of green wood in the UK in 2018 were 11,600,000 tonnes. Allowing for the difference between green and seasoned wood, that means the wood delivered could have been converted into 8,630,000 tonnes of pellets, more than enough to supply Drax. Of course, we don’t use much of our wood for that, and the UK imports 8,000,000 tonnes of pellets per year, most of which goes to feed our hungry friend at Drax.

    2. Subsidies: As well as getting paid for the electricity it makes, Drax gets Renewable Obligation Certificates for three units, with the fourth selling its electricity at a premium via a Contract for Difference. For ROCs, suppliers have to purchase these from eligible generators at a rate of 0.468 per MWh or pay the buy out cost (2018-9: £47.22 each). This cost could in theory reach £0 if renewable generation and conventional generation costs became similar.

    Drax’s annual report indicates that it earnt £528,000,000 in 2019 from these ROCs.

    The fourth unit is enrolled in a CfD, and the annual report indicates earnings of £261,700,000 from this.

    Of course not all of this is directly put on the electricity part of comsumers’ bills, but wholesale buyers will inevitably feed through this increased cost downstream.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 5, 2020 1:02 pm

      The pellet conversion (drying and other losses) seems to be 2:1, so in 2019 Drax used the equivalent of 14.1 million tonnes of green wood (double the weight of pellets).

      Of course UK forestry could nowhere near supply all that in trimmings and otherwise unusable waste to feed Drax – what they laughably claim the pellets are made from.

      I calculated the other day that using a typical UK pine plantation yield of 100T/acre and a 35 year rotation to clear cut, it would take an area about the size of Wales put over to mono-culture pine plantation to meet Drax’s current usage.

      Or if scaled up to 100% of UK electricity supply, slightly more area than the UK itself!

      In terms of land use efficiency, that makes solar PV look like the answer to all out prayers (although obviously not).

  15. Dave Cowdell permalink
    May 4, 2020 11:20 pm

    Chris Huhne, he of ” no I was not driving your honour” and subsequently sent down for perjury was the minister responsible for getting Drax to burn “low carbon” wood. After his conviction, he was unable to return to Parliament and so became the European chairman for Zilkha Biomass who supply the pellets to Drax. You could not make it up or make a film could you,?
    When asked about his employment Chris stressed that he was not doing it for the money but because he believed in it.

  16. Bertie permalink
    May 6, 2020 4:15 pm

    Just another oleaginous, lying, two-faced, self-serving, bastard politician. The two aspects of life consuming the entire media, and thus the uneducated masses, i.e. anthropogenic climate extinction and corona virus – are being promoted by people like him and Gummer just to line their own pockets.
    Should be ‘enough said’ when someone tries to pass a prosecution on to his wife – but, heh, that’s politics!

  17. David permalink
    May 7, 2020 7:12 pm

    Is it likely that the replanting of the American forests will be a very tardy business? It’s obviously expensive to remove the roots and prepare the land for replanting. I suspect this will stay on the back burner

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