Coal-fired Eggborough Power Station to close later this year

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 2 Feb 2018

​Eggborough coal-fired power station in East Yorkshire is to close as pressure to phase out the fossil fuel continues.

The confirmation of the proposal, mooted for the past two years, follows a failure to secure a capacity market contract for 2018-2019, which pays suppliers to be available to provide electricity when required.

Eggborough Power, owned by EPUKI, part of Czech-owned EPH, said it would meet its obligations until the end of September 2018, but without a contract for future years it “will cease to be economically viable to continue operations at the station”. 

Located near Goole, it leaves only six dedicated coal-fired power plants in England and Wales: Cottam, Nottinghamshire; West Burton, Lincolnshire; Aberthaw, Vale of Glamorgan; Uskmouth, Newport; three units at Drax, North Yorkshire (soon to become two, with gas being explored for them); and Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire, while a seventh, Fiddler’s Ferry, in Cheshire, is capable of co-firing coal and biomass.

The four-unit power plant first generated in 1967, and was officially opened in 1970, when all units were commissioned. Last February it celebrated 50 years, having had an initial expected life-span of half that.

Adam Booth, managing director at Eggborough Power, who also oversees the gas-fired South Humber Bank power station at Stallingborough, said: “With the age of the plant and the current Government’s policy that all UK coal-fired power generation must cease by 2025, Eggborough has been under threat of closure for the past few years.

“Eggborough has a proud history of generation and a dedicated and skilled workforce. We will work through the consultation with employee representatives and provide support to employees throughout this process.”

Around 130 jobs could be affected by the move, while some 40 staff will remain to support decommissioning, demolition and future opportunities for the business beyond September 2018.

There are plans for a new 2,500 MW gas-fired power plant at the site, which could meet the electricity needs of around two million homes, but it is not anticipated to be operational until the early 2020s.

Responding to the closure, Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: "Already on the ropes, Eggborough missing out on a capacity market contract was the final straw for this once-great power station.

"Coal-fired generation in the UK is in freefall, and more plant closures - as expected by the Government - will see this continue."

It comes as figures from energy analysis website MyGridGB show coal generation in January 2018, traditionally one of the most coal-intensive months of the year, was down more than two thirds compared to the same month a year ago. We have already seen a coal-free day too, with windy conditions seeing renewables contributing heavily, supporting gas and nuclear. 

"The terminal decline of coal power is coming at the right time, when ever-cheaper renewables are able to fill in the gap, and concerns about air pollution spread around the country.

"Looking ahead, the UK can continue to lead the world away from the most polluting fossil fuel, one of the most important factors in meeting global climate targets," he added.

Port of Immingham imports coal for co-firing, and has previously responded to the decline in demand for coal-handling, with restructuring around the time of Ferrybridge Power Station's closure nearly two years ago.

A £130 million investment in world-leading biomass reception facilities has mitigated the impact to an extent.

An ABP spokesperson said: “ABP is sad to learn about the closure of Eggborough power station and our thoughts are with those who have been affected however, we don’t anticipate the closure to have an impact on the Humber ports directly.” 

Ministers have said they will implement limits for the amount of carbon dioxide coal plants can emit from October 1, 2025, which will mean all power stations that have not invested in technology to cut their emissions will have to cease operation.

The move implements a pledge originally made in 2015 to end “unabated”, without technology to cut carbon emissions, coal generation in Great Britain by 2025 as part of efforts to tackle climate change.

Negotiations officer for the union Prospect Mike MacDonald said: “Whilst we fully support a move to a low-carbon energy system, the speed of change cannot be allowed to cause hardship for those working in the industry.

“This is the third announcement of the rapid closure of a conventional power station since the New Year. We will continue to fight to ensure our members get the best deal.

He added: “This move demonstrates the need for urgent action from the Government to have an energy transition plan.

“Investors must be able to see a stable environment so they can prepare for a low-carbon economy and workers need to adapt their high-tech skills to equip them for the future.”

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