Drax Plc: a terrible candidate for the Humber Renewables Awards

Drax Plc has been shortlisted in two categories for the Humber Renewables Awards. Such awards should be going to businesses that invest in clean and low-carbon renewable energy – not to the owners of the UK’s single biggest CO2 emitter!

While Drax likes to present itself as a cleaner greener energy company (“Europe’s largest decarbonisation project”), its portfolio covers three forms of dirty energy: coal, biomass, and gas.

Drax Power Station burned 2 million tonnes of coal in 2018, from Russia, Colombia, the US and UK. In the Kuzbass region of Russia (Drax’s largest source of coal), indigenous Shor people are suffering the health impacts of coal mining, and those who speak out against it are at risk of human rights abuses.

In addition, Drax has been burning more wood every year than the UK can produce since 2014. Most of that wood comes from the southern USA, where biodiverse forests are being clearcut for pellet production, and often replaced with sterile monoculture tree plantations. The wood pellet industry in the US has also been shown to exacerbate existing environmental injustices by siting its pellet mills and export facilities in areas already affected by polluting infrastructure and social inequality. Moreover, while biomass is categorised as “renewable energy”, in reality it is at least as bad for the climate as coal.

Recently, Drax has been boasting about investing in Carbon Capture and Storage from its biomass plant – although what it is doing is in fact a tiny product testing exercise for a startup company, with no carbon whatsoever being stored anywhere. If this technology was to ever work, it would lead to far more trees being cut down and burned per unit of energy, devastating forests and the wildlife as well as communities that depend on them even more.

Drax is now planning to replace its remaining coal units with far bigger gas ones. This would increase the UK’s reliance on fracked and imported gas, as well as locking our energy system into fossil fuels for decades to come.

To find out more about Drax, see our Axe Drax campaign page

Some Humberside locals will be protesting against Drax’s award nomination on 13th June, 6.30-8pm outside the awards ceremony at the Country Park Inn, Hessle Cliff Rd, Hull HU13 0HB. See the facebook event for more information.