DRAX has underlined its belief in the long term potential of the assets it acquired in Scotland in a £702 million deal in October after Scottish Power lost interest in them.

The portfolio includes a giant reservoir-based power generator in Argyll, the Lanark and Galloway hydro-electric facilities on rivers in South West Scotland and a biomass fuel plant near Glasgow, along with four gas-fired power stations in England.

Spanish-owned Scottish Power has decided the best prospects lie in wind power as it responds to the shift to clean energy.

However, the head of Drax’s generation operations, Andy Koss, said the assets bought from Scottish Power would help it support the move to renewables.

“When the Scottish Power assets came up for sale we were very, very interested in them,” he declared.

Mr Koss noted predictions that in time 85 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs will be met from renewable sources including wind and solar.

The remaining 15% will come from flexible generating facilities that could provide back up when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining.

Drax will use a portfolio that includes the assets acquired from Scottish Power to help provide that 15%.

Mr Koss said Drax has been investing heavily in adapting the giant coal-fired plant in Yorkshire from which it takes its name, and which is described by the firm as the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe.

More than 65% of the power is produced using wood pellets and coal is set to be phased out by 2025.

Drax expects the hydro-electric generating assets bought from Scottish Power to have long remaining lives as they have been well invested in.

It is particularly excited about the potential of the Cruachan pumped-storage facility in Argyll, one of only four in the UK, to provide support to the evolving power system in Scotland.

Cruachan can generate enough to power 90,000 homes based on moving water between a reservoir in the hills and Loch Awe, which lies around 400 metres below.

Mr Koss said Drax has already identified potential development opportunities that could entail hefty investment in the plant.

The company could add more turbines so that it could produce more power from the existing reservoir. Another possibility would involve increasing the capacity of the reservoir by building a new dam.

Mr Koss said the second option would involve a major civil engineering project that could entail hundreds of millions of pounds investment.

Noting that the work done on turbines at the Drax plant has involved investments of £500m plus, he said: “We are not scared about undertaking big infrastructure projects.”

However, as Drax would need assurance about the returns it could achieve, such a scheme would require government support in some form.

Mr Koss noted the potential for the pellets produced at the Daldowie plant to be used at the Drax generator in future.

He said Drax had no plans to reduce the size of the 250-strong workforce in Scotland as the operations bought from Scottish Power were very lean.