Good news for Drax means good news for Argyll

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The company which owns Cruachan Power Station has generated a £13.8m profit following its Scottish Power deal in October last year.

Following a year that saw the energy firm expand its low-carbon capabilities, Drax Group plc has reported a profit before tax of £13.8m for the 12 months to December 31, 2018, up from a pre-tax loss of £204m the previous year.

Drax, which operates the UK’s largest power station in North Yorkshire, generated revenues of £4.23bn in the period, compared with £3.68bn in 2017.

Cruachan: The Hollow Mountain was part of Scottish Power’s pumped storage, hydro and gas-fired generation portfolio acquired by Drax as part of a £702m deal which covered Scottish Power Generation Group along with its SMW subsidiary.

Speaking about future plans for the local station, Drax chief executive Andy Koss said: ‘Drax performed well in 2018 and our commitment to operating safely and sustainably remains at our core.

‘As we look to the future, there are opportunities to expand our assets and plans to do so at Cruachan are in the early stages.

‘We are keen to engage with the Scottish Government and UK parliament and look at further investment.’

Built in the 1960s, Cruachan is one of only four pumped storage power stations in the UK and works like an enormous rechargeable battery, temporarily storing energy by managing water resources between a reservoir in the Argyll hills and Loch Awe, 396m below.

Using its reversible turbines, the station pumps water from Loch Awe to fill the upper reservoir at times when demand for electricity is low. When demand increases, the stored water can be released through the plant’s turbines to generate power quickly and reliably.

The plant usually runs for short periods to meet peaks in demand, but it can operate continuously at full output for around 15 hours if necessary.

The station produces enough flexible electricity to power more than 90,000 households.

‘There are possibilities of hollowing out more of the mountain and expanding the facility that is already there,’ added Mr Koss.

‘As the grid decarbonises, our ability to support intermittent renewables will become increasingly important as we strive to deliver our purpose of enabling a zero carbon, lower cost energy future.

‘We have attractive investment opportunities throughout our business, and while short-term uncertainty over the capacity market remains, we look forward to developing those opportunities in a disciplined fashion.’

Data released in November  revealed how Drax Group made a contribution of almost £1.6bn towards the UK GDP in 2017.

Unlike many UK-based businesses, Mr Koss was also confident that Drax would cope with any of the Brexit options.

‘We are a UK business with UK assets so we would hope that we would be largely unaffected, whatever the outcome,’ he said.