The UK’s biggest renewable power generator, Drax Group, is inviting schools and colleges back to its eponymous power station for the first time since the country went into lockdown due to Covid-19.
Prior to the pandemic, Drax Power Station near Selby in North Yorkshire, welcomed more than 12,000 visitors every year, many of whom were students, visiting as part of the renewable energy company’s initiatives to encourage young people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, boosting skills across the region.
In line with lockdown rules, Drax suspended its public tours in March 2020 to protect its key workers, who worked around the clock throughout the pandemic to ensure the country had the renewable electricity it needed. Drax produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity – more than any other generator.
Wyke Sixth Form College in Hull was one of the first schools to visit the power station since it reopened, taking part in a tour which supported the work the students are doing to understand how renewable electricity is generated.
Plant Director Bruce Heppenstall said: “We work closely with schools in our communities to inspire the next generation to study STEM subjects, and we’re pleased to be able to offer tours of the power station again after being closed to the public for so long.
“These tours are so important – they fire up students’ imaginations by showing them some of the cutting-edge green technologies we’re pioneering, such as BECCS which could play a vital role in addressing the climate crisis as well as delivering jobs and clean growth here in the North.”
The group of 20 students aged between 16 and 19, were taken on a full tour of the site, which included seeing Drax’s Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) pilot project. BECCS is a vital negative emissions technology which Drax plans to use to permanently remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, whilst also generating the reliable, renewable electricity the country needs.
BECCS at Drax would support over 10,000 jobs at its peak, and it is vital that the region’s workforce has the skills needed to deliver this green energy technology, enabling the UK to meet its net zero target.
Sophie Thompson, Head of Science at Wyke Sixth Form College, said: “The students had a great day at Drax, learning about how the electricity system works and where our electricity is generated. Visits like this are so valuable because seeing the power station and the scale of the operations is impossible to replicate in a classroom – it really brings the subject to life.”
During the tour, pupils learnt how renewable electricity is generated and discovered how sustainable wood pellets have enabled Drax to reduce its carbon emissions by 95% in a decade, making it Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project.
They saw the 427-metre turbine hall that houses the huge turbines which power the generators to produce electricity, as well as the wood pellet storage domes – each large enough to fit The Royal Albert Hall inside, and the 115m high cooling towers, which are taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Tours are free to all primary and secondary schools and can be tailored to suit the area of the curriculum teachers are interested in.
Schools interested in organising a tour, should contact