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Longannet to close

The BBC reports that the Longannet power station is to close in 2016.

Scottish Power has announced plans to close its huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife early next year.

The move comes after the energy firm failed to win a crucial contract from National Grid.

Scottish Power said it was "extremely disappointed" at National Grid's decision.

The Greens are celebrating.

Gina Hanrahan, from WWF Scotland, said National Grid's announcement was "another important step in Scotland's energy transition".

The correspondent who pointed the story out to me (to whom many thanks are due) adds this:

National Grid have given a £15million contract to maintain grid voltage to [the gas-fired station in] Peterhead, but that is for only 385MW of the station's potential 1.2GW. 

Longannet is 1.8GW (2.4 in theory but they don't like to crank it up nowadays).  So a net loss of 1.4GW capacity and a significant loss of grid inertia.  It's maybe not the best analogy, but National Grid are now sailing very close to the wind.

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Reader Comments (108)

Don't spit in the wind, Jack, don't close down the coal.

Mar 23, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

"sailing very close to the wind" just about sums up the insanity of the SNP policy of wind, wind and more wind. People in Scotland would be advised to get their own generator.

Given that the modern Killingholme Gas-Fired Power Station in Lincolnshire is no longer economical (900MW), things are looking decidedly dodgy. But Davey and DECC will ensure that the lights don't go out - they know what they're doing and are fully in control of our energy future. It's solar and wind all the way down (aided by thousands of very expensive dirty diesel generators).

Mar 23, 2015 at 4:46 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Longannet is almost the perfect example of a fossil fuel power station. It sits on top of a coal mine and is situated more or less midway between the biggest two energy demand centres in Scotland (Glasgow & Edinburgh). Exactly the sort of facility the stupid Scots would close down.

Mar 23, 2015 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

I really wouldn't worry too much about it. After all, thousands of homes are receiving the green treatment to keep the occupants lovely and toasty warm. Oh! Wait!

Mar 23, 2015 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Everyone can have a song and dance when

Mar 23, 2015 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAntiCitzenOne

The quote fromthe big green schill was a bit off. It should read:
"Gina Hanrahan, from WWF Scotland, said National Grid's announcement was "another important step in Scotland's energy *destructon*".
There, all better.

Mar 23, 2015 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Went out to get some repairs organised for the Quad, was told on my return I needed to get working on the gen-set for next winter as Longannet was to close.

Mar 23, 2015 at 6:21 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

The sh## is about to hit the fan.
Longannet supplied over 50% of Scotland's electricity.
The joke of a energy policy will shortly be exposed.
No professional engineer would ever back this mad policy.
The blind leading the blind.
Who will accept blame for this potential disaster?

Mar 23, 2015 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

hunter has it right :-) The entirely insane energy policy is one of the very few things I regret about moving to Scotland, not that England is a great deal better. I noticed which way the wind was blowing (pun intended), or rather not blowing in the middle of winter, a couple of years after I moved up and got a wood burning stove installed.

Mar 23, 2015 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJanets

Let the Scots suffer by having the Barnett subsidies removed and putting phase switches at the border to stop them dumping wind energy.

Transport down, factories down; they'll soon adapt by going back to sail trawling and crofting.....:o)

Mar 23, 2015 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Electricity Jenga or is it Kerplunk?

Mar 23, 2015 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Today when wind is providing 1.23GW the French Interconnector is also down to 1GW as well, which is quite unusual.

Mar 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

Scottish energy generation implosion.

Given that the two nuclear power stations are not far off the end of their life, dark ages here we come!!!!! The unbelievable stupidity of the Green Plague movement.

Mar 23, 2015 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Winds are light when we have high pressure systems. In winter it means it will be colder as well.

Wind was close to 1 GW sometime last week when I last looked and it struck me that the billions wasted on wind farms ends up producing less electricity than 1 decent power station. When wind power generates just 2% of demand, they still need 98% from somewhere else to keep the lights on.

Except they are closing everything else down .... oops!

Mar 23, 2015 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Once there was a little old ram thougth he'd punch a hole in a dam .............. whoops there goes another megaWatt damn !!!

Mar 23, 2015 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Two thousand local jobs and the second largest generator. Already compliant with EU regs and according to Nicola Sturgeon last month will mean Scotland will now be dependent on the rest of the UK for the first time. The greens are lunatic fanatics.

Mar 23, 2015 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

Who will accept blame for this potential disaster?


Not the barsteward that will have caused it. They never do.

When will you Brits realise it. If you want common sense VOTE UKIP.

Sorry about the politics Bish but we french are doing our bit. Le Pen got 33.33% of the vote in our region. I vote Le Pen now even though she is a dangerous lunie. She is no more dangerous than the rest of the EU communists.

Mar 23, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Time to start copyrighting the excuses eh?

I do wonder if they have been taking guidance from the Nigerian electricity Industry.

Aggreko + the diesel generator boys will be drooling over this. What chance they've already agreed to sell the valuable / useful bits of the thing to the Germans - like Didcot.

Mar 23, 2015 at 9:17 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Have the SNP realised that their dream of independence from the rest of the UK, is going to be totally dependant on power from the rest of the UK? If they got rid of the Green Blob however.........

Of course if the SNP did a deal with UKIP, haggis might fly.

Mar 23, 2015 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Thanks for the h/t.
My concern is that the foolishness that allows our leaders to be gullible enough to actually believe in these CO2 obsessed policies means they are making other equally poor decisions that we simply have not found out about yet.

Mar 23, 2015 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Sailing close to the wind on a lee shore, to belabour the obvious.

Mar 23, 2015 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Funny old business:

Mar 23, 2015 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"Although the station is 40 years old, ScottishPower is investing in solutions to extend Longannet’s lifespan and promote improved efficiency and reducing its environmental impact – including emissions to air, waste to landfill and use of natural resources. In 2009, a new Boosted Over Fire Air (BOFA) abatement system was commissioned on all four units to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), formed during coal combustion, by up to 25%. In 2010, the station progressed commissioning of Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) on two of its units aimed at cutting emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) by up to 94%. The system uses the alkaline properties of seawater from the Forth Estuary to absorb and neutralise acidic SO2from the flue gases, resulting in a harmless soluble sulphate (SO4) that can be discharged back to the Firth of Forth. Combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, results in the release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). To reduce its carbon impact, Longannet is improving its thermal efficiency through investing in combustion optimisation technology. The station is also looking at installing additional NOx reduction technology, such as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), that would meet future emission limits and potentially extend the station's working life by up to 30 years."

Mar 23, 2015 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Its worth remember that the Greens do not seen an energy supply crisis has a problem but an opportunity , so they actual want this to occur . Remember in their own minds their 'saving the planet ' so not price can to high to pay.

Mar 24, 2015 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Given the stance of the SNP on "green" power and the fact that Gregor Fisher was banned from the independence referendum for portraying a negative stereotype of Scots manhood and family values ... I'm wondering if hoping a script is in preparation for Rab + the brood to move into a smoky candle lit yurt....

Mar 24, 2015 at 1:23 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Is it an Ineos bluff ? ie the story is more complex than it first seems.
I'll wait to see how it plays out.
"As we have said previously, today's decision by National Grid means that, in all likelihood, we will be forced to announce the closure of Longannet by March 2016."

There is much more detail in this Douglas Fraser article
.... He Explains the new High Voltage lines : "Scotland has been producing more thermal power than it needs, from coal, nuclear, hydro and increasingly - when the weather's right - from wind."
"This works in both directions, so when Scotland's renewable generation isn't generating, the grid in Scotland can draw on gas, coal, nuclear, solar and other renewable power generation from England and beyond." but these lines are not available until 2017 ...hence the special 2016 Voltage Contract which Longannet lost to Peterhead is to cover voltage problems.

Orig BBC article has a joke from A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change:
"The awarded contract is good news for Peterhead, a plant that is developing CCS technology which will help towards our carbon emission objectives. This will also help maintain high levels of electricity security for Scotland."

Re Killinghome, Previously gas powerstations stood idle cos it was more profitable to sell their pollution certificates rather than actually operate them, but today I don't know why so many UK gas stand mothballed, but they should still produce electricity way cheaper than wind/solar..and reliably.

- You don't let the teenagers make the important decisions in your HOUSE.
So why do you let THE GREENS make the important decisions in your COUNTRY ?
- the word green does mean naive.

Mar 24, 2015 at 2:58 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I am beginning to think I was wrong to celebrate Scotland's decision to remain in the UK.

Mar 24, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Why does not the Scottish Parliament set itself as an example of how the wonderful new world of green energy will actually work in practice?

Simply trip the mains supply to the Parliament Building from the evil, fossil-fuelled grid – no price is too high when saving the planet. In the fullness of time, when they have installed enough solar panels and windmills, the Parliament Building will give a beautiful illustration of how green energy works in practice. They could then extend the idea to the means of transport that MSPs are allowed to use – no inconvenience is too much when saving the planet. No air travel and free-issue bikes all round?

Much of the discussion is at least one step removed from the impacts on people (apart from the poor who cannot pay their electricity bills). It should be brought closer to those making these ridiculous decisions. Challenge them to set an example by showing the rest of us how this is going to work in practice. Why aren’t they walking the walk and not just talking the talk? (No need for an answer!)

Mar 24, 2015 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterdrjohngalan

Are people incapable of reading beyond a headline? It isn't the SNP, nor any mythical Scottish energy policy. It was the National Grid - a private enterprise - who did not award a contract to Scottish Power - another private enterprise. These enterprises were privatised against the wishes of the vast majority of the Scottish people by a Tory party that now has just MP in Scotland. The SNP meanwhile are the only party to apparently care that Longannet will close. The Tories still think the markets know best even when it is blindingly obvious that they don't. So if you are a long-term supporter of free markets then you have the happy opportunity to witness the result of it; ie the closure of vital systems. What's that, you don't like it? So therefore it must be someone else to blame? Well isn't that just typical!

Mar 24, 2015 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The loss of Longannet is nothing to worry about - Ed Davey is coming to the rescue with plans for another 15GW (capacity) of solar panels by 2020, which 'could provide 4% of UK electricity in a decade' (yet another totally uncritical analysis by the BBC's Roger Harrabin).

I do think it is remiss of Davey's civil servants and advisers not to point out the obvious that solar panels in our northern latitudes will produce diddly squat between October and February, and nothing at all at night. "Load-following, grid inertia, energy security? what do we need them for..."

Mar 24, 2015 at 8:45 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

@JamesG: Longannet is closing because windmills are subsidised by the Scottish Government. It cannot be run profitably without a subsidy. To continue having regular Grid Power hence avoid going back to subsistence, Scots must subsidise the base-load power stations by extra taxation OR reduce windmill subsidies.

England will not make up the loss of Longannet because its Grid is undersupplied. Either half English homeowners will buy their own generators or DECC employees will be hanged from nearby lamp posts until they learn the lesson of Democracy. The Scots can hang their own civil servants. This is called Devolution!

Mar 24, 2015 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

JamesG (Mar 24, 2015 at 8:38 AM): I agree. The SNP's energy policy has been a disaster in the making, but I thjnk they have (albeit belatedly) now realised that it will be Longannet which will keep the lights on, not windmills. The reason for Longannet's closure is primarily due to National Grid demanding £30 million p.a. for the grid connection, which if Longannet was in the south-east, would only be £5 million pa. The reason they cite is increased transmission costs due to Longannet being far from the demand (in the south of England). But now that we in Scotland have lost Cockenzie (coal), and Peterhead (gas) is effectively moth-balled, there is very little chance of any output from Longannet going further afield than the Central Belt (Edinburgh & Glasgow), especially when there is no wind. Scotland is being penalised here, and we are in a very serious situation. Our landscapes have suffered most from large sacle windfarms (which are a result of largely overseas companies reaping subsidies which are set in Westminster, not Holyrood). Now our thermal plants are being closed without any real replacements planned. The SNP have been taken for a ride by the Greens and subsidy junkies in the renewable industry, the question is now whether Nicola can still sort out this mess before it is too late.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:05 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

@lapogus: the answer to the Scots' political problem is to punish the SNP by voting them out of office for their incompetence.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Davey continues to show his insanity (according to Harrabin) Solar energy 'could provide 4% of UK electricity in a decade'.

No problems getting electricity at night then. But Davey, who knows better than the rest of us, said "Solar power will do to energy what mobile phones did for communication and markets." Except mobile phones work 24/7.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

'It was the National Grid - a private enterprise - who did not award a contract to Scottish Power - another private enterprise.'

Yes a private enterprise but running to rules set by DECC, and the transmission charges where set under Mr Millipede.

We have a private electricity but it is in reality run as a public body DECC.

Peterhead has even higher transmission charges than Longannet so there is something else in play, carbon tax no doubt.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

One can look at exactly the same set of facts and conclude that the SNP had no choice but to pursue windmills since the LibLabCon are clearly determined to make Scotland energy dependent and there is nothing the Scots can do about it while still part of the UK apparatus that visited upon them this ill-thought and unwanted privatisation fiasco in the first place.

If Scots are unfairly squeezed by the National Grid favouring England then they also surely have the moral right to squeeze out subsidies from England to pay for these windmills. One might even look upon the dash for wind power as remarkably prescient. What you see depends on where you stand!

There is an unholy alliance of stupid actors in this play but the SNP, having been fooled not so much by the greens (as Lapogus posits), but more by the clueless UK climate scientists, are still least at fault in this particular instance. To agree with Lapogus, they seem now to be beginning to listen to common sense views, unlike LibLabCon.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

@JamesG: the problem is deeper. We ceded democratic control of energy to the EU. The Scots have three choices.

1. To keep trains and industry going, and houses lit, they could leave the EU and renationalise their energy industry. However, to do so, they would have to combat the 200 Corporate Fascists who are behind the SNP for the subsidies.

2. They could do as I have suggested for England; install in half the homes 5 nukes' worth of decentralised CHP by fuel cells with close coupled solar to grab the windmill standby business from the Diesel STOR Corporate Fascists and Government buildings imposing additional taxes on the poor by proxy, totally evil politics. A home-owner would get payback in less than 2 years for the extra investment in replacing a gas boiler, but we need fracking and biogas.

3. The Scots can go back to crofting and sail trawling, which is what the Gaels want, leaving new SNP supporters in the industrial cities to go back to Labour and a National Solution to the problem; renationalise base-load Power and stuff the Corporate Fascists. But to do that we would have to leave the EU and its new Mussolini-type State.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E


"We have a private electricity but it is in reality run as a public body DECC."

Well firstly this shows the remarkable naivety of privatisation in the first place but secondly there is a very good reason to suspect that without regulation we'd end up with utility suppliers acting like Enron. And frankly this is what I suspect the National Grid is aspiring to since what they are doing makes no sense from any logical perspective other than wishing to profiteer from energy scarcity. This is the inevitable result of privatising a natural monopoly! Of course we cannot rule out just basely stupid management of the type that sunk GEC, Enron etc which is yet another reason not to trust vital systems to the market.

But the notion that free enterprise can be trusted to do the right thing only comes from economists who hadn't run so much as a toffee shop and the notion was only really tried out Yeltsin's Russia and (to a lesser extent) in latin America (imposed by World bank dogma). In both cases it was a disaster as it became clear that unfettered free markets are only free for criminals. Not that free marketers learnt these lessons because, like the greens, they see just what they want to see.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

This could get interesting. With Long. gone, Scotland will have two aging nukes, a small gas plant, lots of windmills, seasonal, ancient hydro, and the interconnectors. What could possibly go wrong?

I wonder if they'll extend the life of Hunterston beyond 2016?

Can Torness provide sufficient reactance compensation when it's the only sizeable plant on Scotland's grid and the nearest thermal plant in England is over 100 miles south of the border? Will Torness make it to 2023, and will Sellafield still supply fuel for that last AGR - like they did for the last Magnox stations?

Nothing to worry about here - we'll - no, THEY'LL - be saved by renewables.

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Is there a big price difference between Scotland and English consumer prices ?
ie do Scottish customers end up paying more for this madness ?

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:58 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


Mar 24, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Well I like your 1 and 2 but since the Scots cannot do either without independence then they don't actually have these choices at all yet. That was what the referendum vote was about after all! However surely having 50 MP's (the current prediction) out of 59 would give the SNP the required mandate to do what they like. The reason the Scots are pro-SNP is surely because they are fed up of Labour party puppets and the Tories that devastated Scottish industry (hence actually creating that short-term subsidy dependence on England that the Tories later crowed about) are absolutely beyond the pale.

Incidentally I recently attended a lecture about the UK-designed Moltex reactor which looks highly promising and ticks every box; green, cheap, safe. Perhaps, in defence of free markets, I should concede that necessity really is the mother of invention. I really hope so!

Mar 24, 2015 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

What's the odds of it being windy from 2017 onwards in Scotland? Humm...

You could ask the Met Office but that would be a waste of time as their predictions, even when couched in caveats, are usually wrong. So the only reliable long range forecast come from the bookmarking industry.
OK Oddschecker, PaddyPower, and Ladbrooks what's odds of fine Scottish weather from 2016 onwards?

The Scottish futures markets in both candles and batteries are looking good.
Scotch Whiskey futures are looking grim...

Mar 24, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

@JamesG: what you must also realise is that the people behind Agenda21, the banks and the 300 or so families that own them, want to destroy the Power Grids of Western economies.

Engineers like me around the World realised a long time ago that there is near zero CO2-AGW and for our populations to survive, they have to be prepared to go off grid when the wind doesn't blow.

Only when the poor rise up in the inner cities as they start to die will the politicians fed this fake science listen; after all, a mob does tend to concentrate the mind!

Hence the Scots need to threaten to hang a few representatives of this new Age of Stupid!

Mar 24, 2015 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

'If Scots are unfairly squeezed'
Here we go again! The Scots as victims! The money trees have failed, so it must be those nasty English at fault!
And despite their narrow escape from a bankrupt independence, they will vote into existence a SNP landslide. With Oil receipts overtaken by events and now their hubristic renewable energy policy on the slide, they openly promise to create mayhem in Westminster for the rest of the UK populations.
Biting the hand that feeds you springs to mind?

Mar 24, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Ah, yes. The dark ages return.

Mar 24, 2015 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Gina Hanrahan eh?

iirc WWF Scotland were on the receiving end of some considerable EU /public largesse...

Anyway - these toxic buffoons think they don't need any nasty CO2 producing energy sources

Mar 24, 2015 at 11:17 AM | Registered Commentertomo

roger [Mar 24, 2015 at 10:28 AM] - energy policy is not a devolved power. Planning is devolved so the Scottish Government can veto proposed nuclear stations, but it has no influence over the FIT and ROC subsidies, nor the current craze for CCS. No-one said the it English were nasty. But I would say that Milliband, Huhne, Cameron and Davey and their advisers in DECC have been totally incompetent.

Mar 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Yeah - lapogus and Philip Bratby - I saw that article from Harrabin - yet no-one seems to be asking him the obvious question:

What happens at night..?

Mar 24, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Mar 24, 2015 at 9:05 AM | lapogus

Re Cockenzie, there is some hope - it seems that Scottish Power are demolishing the coal parts of the power station but keeping the turbine hall for the installation, sometime, of a couple of CCGTs, protected from the elements and presumably served by the overhead crane.

They already have permission for a CCGT power station, so all that is needed is a subsidy to offset the adverse effect of the windmills.

Mar 24, 2015 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

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