除了Drax Power公司以外，Drax集團下另外擁有4家負責不同業務的公司。其一是位於美國的Drax Biomass公司，負責木顆粒製造；其二是位於英國東北部的Haven Power公司，負責電力供應業務；其三是位於英國牛津、北安普頓及卡地夫的Opus Energy公司，負責企業客戶之電力與天然氣供應；最後則是位於英國利物浦的Billington Bioenergy公司，負責英國的木顆粒供暖服務。
根據Biofuelwatch的分析，Drax集團將燃煤機組轉換成生質能機組，主因來自Drax獲得英國政府的大量補貼。第一次機組轉換時，其補貼高達每年1.9億英鎊，第二個機組轉換時，其補貼則達每年2.5億英鎊。此外，Biofuelwatch更指出，Drax集團已被保證獲得4.8億英鎊長期補貼，該公司甚至獲得7,500萬英鎊的公共貸款擔保，以及獲得來自公營的英國綠色投資銀行（Green Investment Bank）達5,000萬英鎊的優惠貸款。這些可能性都來自於Drax集團CEO，Thompson Dorothy公開遊說英國政府為未來轉換生質能提供補貼。
DRAX – BIOMASS IN THE UK
Drax Group is a major player in the energy sector as it is one of the UK’s largest energy companies. It’s three focusses are:
- Electricity generation;
- Electricity sales (to business customers);
- Electricity production (through processing compressed wood pellets)
Drax group includes 4 entities that have slightly different objectives. Firstly, Drax Biomass which is based in the United States – this is where the wood pellets are produced and compressed. Secondly, Haven Power based north east of London (UK) – they supply energy to businesses. Thirdly, Opus Energy based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff (UK) – provide both electricity and gas to businesses. Lastly, Billington Bioenergy based in Liverpool (UK) – leads the distribution of wood pellets for heating usage across the UK.
The Drax Group has a well-oiled functioning profit generated business. The company buys its wood pellets from the US then uses one of its other entities in the UK to distribute and sale to customers. Drax Group by its size and variety of focusses is a huge player in biomass both in the UK but also in the EU and subsequently in the world.
Transitioning to Co-firing & Biomass Plants
In April 2013, the Drax Group converts its first plant so that it will be generating power from compressed wood pellets. In the following year, a second unit generating power is also upgraded to biomass.
Figure 1 shows the UK’s monthly imports and exports of wood pellets. Imports of wood pellets grew dramatically after April 2013 because the Drax Group converted its first unit and commissioned. The other peak of wood pellet imports is after May 2014 because of conversion of Drax 2nd unit.
Figure 1 UK monthly imports and exports of wood pellets
An important point to make is that, according to calculations by Biofuelwatch, the Drax Group is receiving large subsidies from the UK government to convert their units. The first subsidy is high of £190 million a year at full capacity and the second one reaches £250 million a year for converting their second unit. Additionally, Biofuelwatch points out that the Drax Group has been guaranteed long-term subsidies of up to £480 million tonnes. Moreover, the company was awarded £75 million public loan guarantee and a £50 million cheap loan from the government-owned Green Investment Bank. This all possible due to Thompson Dorothy, Drax Group CEO, openly lobby the UK government for subsidies for further conversion to biomass.
Role of the Drax Group in the UK Economy
Oxford Economics whom provide economic forecasting and modelling to UK companies was contracted by the Drax Group to report on the functioning and the impact of the company.
The numbers are impressive when taking into account the overall activities (supply chain and wages spent) it is stated that Drax’s economic impact is of £1.2billion within the wider consumer economy. With the multiplier effects accounted for, Oxford Economics finds that the Drax Group, in 2015, supported a total of 14,150 jobs in the UK. And, generated a total of £430 million in tax revenues for the UK Exchequer.
The economic impact is enormous and matches the energy impact as of now, the Drax Group is capable of meeting 8% of the UK’s energy demand. This equals to six million homes making it integral to the good running of the country. It is evident that Drax has positioned themselves as an important economic and energy center for the UK and therefore benefits from consequent advantages.
- Biofuel Watch, “DECC’s latest renewable electricity subsidy guarantees threaten forests, communities and climate”, Biofuelwatch, April 25, 2014, available at: here.
- Drax https://www.drax.com/
- The Carbon Brief: https://www.carbonbrief.org/investigation-does-the-uks-biomass-burning-help-solve-climate-change
- Oxford Economics: “The Economic impact of Drax Group in the UK,” available at: here.