Dorothy Thompson to step down as CEO of Drax
Drax, a UK-based power producer, has announced that its CEO Dorothy Thompson will step down and leave the company at the end of 2017 after a 12-year term in the position.
Thompson, a non-executive director for the Bank of England and one of the few women CEOs to lead a FTSE-listed company, will be replaced by Will Gardiner, the current Finance Chief of Drax.
“I retire knowing the group is in excellent shape: it has the right strategy, the right team and in Will, the right leader,” said Thompson.
Drax is a major player within the UK energy market, generating as much as 7% of the UK’s electricity at its power station in Selby, north Yorkshire alone.
The replacement of Thompson is in line with a number of changes that the company is continually making, with the aim of reducing its carbon footprint.
"The changes we are seeing in the UK energy sector are unprecedented and we have an opportunity to thrive while doing the right thing for the UK energy market," said Gardiner.
"Drax's people have demonstrated repeatedly their ability to deliver transformational change and I'm delighted to be working with them to build on Dorothy's strong legacy."
The firm has been gradually moving away from coal, instead replacing it with biomass, and more recently has begun planning to incorporate both gas-fired power and battery installations moving forward.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.