Another Coal-fired Power Station Set to Close
One of the last coal-fired power stations in the UK is set to close by March of next year. The Fiddler’s Ferry station near Warrington in Cheshire is the last coal station operated by energy firm SSE.
Its closure will reduce the country’s total of remaining coal-fired energy stations to just five.
Coal Station ‘Unable to Compete’ with Gas and Renewables
The Managing Director of Thermal Energy at SSE, Stephen Wheeler, confirmed the reason for closing the Fiddler’s Ferry station. He said it simply could not compete with the modern economics of gas and renewable energy. He revealed the plant had been losing £40 million a year due to government policy focusing on supporting cleaner energy.
“Financially,” explained Mr Wheeler, “the station is making significant losses and our projections show that this will continue to be the case as the UK looks to phase out coal-fired generation by 2025 at the latest. At nearly fifty years old, the station is unable to compete with more efficient and modern gas and renewable generation.”
The head of National Grid’s system operator arm, Fintan Slye, agreed that these were good reasons for closing the station. He said, “More renewable power generation and less coal is a trend that is here to stay, and this carbon intensity milestone shows the pace of change in the UK energy industry.”
Coal Power Diminishing in Importance
Mr Slye also said National Grid should be able to fully operate Britain’s electricity system without any coal by 2025. Recents reports showed coal’s contribution to total energy generation has diminished to a mere 3% of all carbon-producing energy.
Gas now contributes 41% and produces around half the amount of carbon that coal does.
The closure of the Fiddler’s Ferry station follows the planned closure of the Cottam coal plant in Nottinghamshire. That one is operated by EDF Energy who plan to shut it down for good in September.
There then remains five sites with six generation units as there are two generators at the Drax site in Yorkshire. However, both of those are due for conversion to gas, eventually leaving the UK with just four coal-fired power stations. They are Aberthaw B in South Wales, West Burton A and Ratcliffe-on-Soar (both also in Nottinghamshire), and Kilroot in Northern Ireland.
Coal: Reliable but Dangerous
Coal is reliable and in enough abundance that it could generate power for another 300 years (according to some reports). However, the negative aspects have been far out-weighing the positive for a long time now.
Coal-fired power stations have been responsible for a lot of air pollution during their existence. On a human level they are linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, as well as multiple neurological problems. On a global level, coal power pollution has been linked to the likes of acid rain and climate change. Its diminishing use will only benefit our overall quality of life as cleaner energy generation replaces it.
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