July 25, 2018 - U.K. utility Drax Group reported a 16 per cent fall in earnings in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year. Drax attributes the drop to two unplanned outages at its biomass units.
By Maria Church
The first was in January when a rail unloading building outage restricted operation of two wood pellet units. The second was a generator outage at a unit in February.
Drax is in the midst of converting a fourth biomass generating unit, which the company reports is on schedule and budget, with commissioning expected in late summer.
The company is also building a third biomass pellet plant, LaSalle Bioenergy, which is expected to be at full capacity early next year.
“Full year EBITDA expectations remain unchanged. However, first half EBITDA was lower, principally due to two specific generation outages,” Will Gardiner, Drax chief executive said in a statement. “We made excellent progress with our Pellet Production business, driving down costs while producing at record levels and our B2B Energy Supply business continues to increase customer numbers. We also remain on track with our investment projects: the conversion of a fourth unit to biomass, and the development of our OCGT and coal-to-gas repowering options.
“We remain focused on safe and efficient operations and returns to shareholders and expect to declare a full year dividend of £56 million for 2018.”