The project, expected to be complete in 2011, will generate 400 megawatts (MW) of the 4,000 MW power station's output and is part of a commitment by Drax to reduce CO2 emissions by 15%.
Alstom Power has been awarded the $98 million engineering, procurement and construction contract to build the main processing works contract by Drax.
The works will receive, handle, store and process various biomass materials ready for direct injection into the power station's coal-fired boilers. Alstom has global project experience in supplying biomass co-firing technology to large-scale coal-fired power plants.
Contracts for the direct injection equipment and the rail unloading facility will be awarded by Drax by the end of 2008. Site preparation has begun and construction is due to start in the second half of the year. Phase I of the project will be commissioned toward the end of 2009.
In 2007, Drax produced 22.5 million tons of CO2 and hopes to save 10% of the total emissions by the biomass co-firing technology burning wood pellets, which could be sourced from North America. Drax is also making good progress with the current turbine upgrade project, which, combined with the co-firing benefit, could see a 15% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2011.
The company will benefit from income from the UK's renewable obligation certificates scheme that guarantees income from power generated using renewable energy sources. Drax will also be able to reduce the number of CO2-emissions permits it has to purchase under the European Union's emissions-trading scheme.