September 13, 2017 / 1:47 PM / a year ago

UK's Drax applies to turn more coal power to gas, build battery storage

(Reuters) - Drax said on Wednesday it has applied to convert two of its remaining coal-fired power units to gas and to build battery storage, moves driven by Britain’s shift away from coal.

Britain has said all coal power plants must be closed by the middle of the next decade and Drax, whose northern English coal plant was once Europe’s most polluting, has already switched three coal-burning units to wood pellets as a result.

It now plans to install up to 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of gas-fired power capacity by replacing a maximum of two of its coal-burning turbines. It is also continuing with plans to convert a fourth coal unit to biomass.

Drax said it has also notified Britain’s Planning Inspectorate, the body which recommends approvals of large infrastructure projects to the government, about its wishes to build a battery storage site of up to 200 megawatts (MW).

“These options could repurpose up to two of our coal assets and extend their operation into the 2030s,” Andy Koss, chief executive of Drax’ power business, said.

Drax said the project would only go ahead if it obtained 15-year contracts in Britain’s capacity market auctions.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Alexander Smith

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