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« The inhumanity of the true green believer | Main | Greens to gross-out over Gaia gains »
Wednesday
May202015

Another power station to close

SSE has announced that it is to close a coal-fired power station at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire, taking a further 2GW of capacity out of the grid. I'm not sure whether this has been factored into Ofgem's capacity margin calculations already.

The unions, who have been toeing the green line for years, are squealing loudly. If I were one of their members I would be wondering what I'd been paying them for all this time.

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Reader Comments (34)

SSE also said they are bringing the gas-fired station at Keadby(?) out of "deep moth-balling" which will bring it back on line in about 12 months. It has close to the capacity of Ferrybridge so there should be little effect on margins.
IMHO one driver for this could be anticipation of large volumes of (relatively) economic gas coming onto the market as the US ramps up LNG exports.

May 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Keadby is only 720 MWe, although due to a fire Ferrybridge C is only operating at 1GW(e?). So our power generation capacity drops further...

May 20, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterCW

Also, conceivably, a belief that without the Lib-Dems round his neck Cameron will actually come good on his promise of shale gas.
Note the usual drivel in the press release:

It’s been known for many years that the UK would have to phase out coal as it moves towards a more sustainable energy mix.
What is unsustainable about a fuel that has reserves estimated at >300 years?

May 20, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"Bite the hand that feeds it"

Seems a fitting statement

However, they can feel good that their redundancy is saving the planet!

May 20, 2015 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered Commentercharmingquark

They've been doing a lot of work at Ferrybridge over the past few years. In my ten-second glimpses driving past on the A1 a few times a year I picked up the impression that they were converting it to run on wood pellets, but I must be wrong on that.

Ferrybridge is right on top of a coal mine...

May 20, 2015 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJit

Jit: Unfortunately all that work was going into constructing Ferrybridge Multi-fuel (biomass), which will have, wait for it, 65MW capacity, with a stunning 90MW to come. Wow.

May 20, 2015 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterCW

Replacing coal with more expensive gas and even more subsidised biomass can only mean one thing for electricity bills. It's a pity Red Ed isn't around to freeze electricity prices for us (that is if there will electricity to buy).

I didn't know that there is a "political consensus that coal has a limited role in the future". Has he forgotten the 4m UKIP voters who think otherwise?

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

Yvette Cooper, part of the team that passed the 2008 CC act, says it's terrible news. IDIOT

May 20, 2015 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richardsrds

Stephen Richards(rds): You don't expect a PPE to be capable of linking effect to cause do you? They aren't aware of the law of unintended consequences, never mind the law of expected outcome. They are incapable of thinking things through to the final outcome.

May 20, 2015 at 9:34 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

All of the investment used to retrofit coal plants with desulphurisation to meet the Large Combustion Plant Directive thrown away as the goal posts are moved again.
Message to investors: stay away from energy.

May 20, 2015 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterCW

When I heard this interview on TODAY this morning I vaguely recall that the CEO SSE was saying that coal power closures depended on the outcome of something called the 'carbon auction price' - determined by HMG. This could make coal less profitable.

SO it seems that if the power companies could make more profit selling candles they would - and bugger the needs of the country. It's also about time that Mr Cameron stopped listening to Mrs Cameron.

May 20, 2015 at 9:46 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

re "promise of shale gas" ... not yet proven reserves. While investments in exploration are surely warranted, major decisions on power generation based on guesses that on domestic shale gas volumes will be significant seem premature and not prudent.

May 20, 2015 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterrms

major decisions on power generation based on guesses that on domestic shale gas volumes will be significant seem premature and not prudent
So? There's always the taxpayer if you call it wrong.

May 20, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"I would be wondering what I'd been paying them for all this time."

Indeed.

Theirs not to [wonder] why, Theirs but to do and die

May 20, 2015 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

May 20, 2015 at 9:50 AM. rms re: "promise of shale gas" .

I would have thought that the decision in the short term is based on the US decision to turn their LNG facilities to export. There should be a flood of available LNG over the next five to ten years followed by domestic tight gas. Most will be exported from the Gulf coast so equally economical to go east or west.

I have just changed from Electric Central Heating to Calor Gas for the same reason. I hope I am not wrong!

May 20, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

"
SO it seems that if the power companies could make more profit selling candles they would - and bugger the needs of the country. It's also about time that Mr Cameron stopped listening to Mrs Cameron.

May 20, 2015 at 9:46 AM | Registered Commenter Harry Passfield"

Harry

Have you run into that very descriptive US term "pussy whipped", which comes to mind?

May 20, 2015 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

Harry Passfield, Another Ian, I'm not sure you can point the green finger of blame entirely at women. Come up with the top warmists and Kathryn Hayhoe and Naomi Oreskes are fairly lonely in the male dominated collection of nuts. Cameron may be influenced by Mrs Cameron but there's plenty of evidence he has a soft green spot of his own.

May 20, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I do not think Cameron will ever drop the green crap, he is totally enamoured of the whole Article 21 stupidity. I had hoped that with new MPs there may be one who is a genuine Conservative and who could get the party back on track. And the first stage would be the repeal of the insane Climate Change Act. Well I can dream, that hasn't been made illegal.....yet!

May 20, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

Ivor Ward

If it was a short term decision then politicians are even more stupid than I thought (and that is verging on ineducable!), it has taken 5 years for the USA to convert their import terminals (but only 2 so far) into export terminals and British Gas signed a contract to buy the stuff years ago.
The more you observe the actions of government the more you understand that they do not have a clue what is going on. Cameron now seems to genuinly want shale gas to be given a chance but without repealing the Climate Change Act our electricity generation must come from renewable if available (meaning as we all know that gas power generatiion is not an economic prospect).

May 20, 2015 at 10:41 AM | Registered CommenterDung

CW; Although Ferrybridge has 4 x 490 MW units, two have already been shutdown having used up their hours under the LCPD (?). So the net loss - assuming keadby does restart - is approx 250 MW which is small beer in the overall scheme of things.

In the interview I heard (R5), SSE explained that gas is becoming more economical as "carbon taxes" rise and that the plant is near the end of its useful life -it's 50 years old.

May 20, 2015 at 10:42 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Derek Buxton

It happened! Did you miss it? Owen Patterson arrived and then got sacked, way to go Sam!

May 20, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Bish an error : NOT 2GW, it takes only 500W off the grid & actually zero W are operating NOW
May I refer you to an answer I gave earlier May 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM
"There were 4 units at 500MW each, 2 closed long ago (28 March 2014 *), one had a fire last years so only 1 is left."
AND NOW via ITV I see
.. Unit 3 is undergoing routine servicing April-August 2015
Unit 4 was badly damaged in a serious fire last year .Now theyjust decided it's too damaged to repair so will be removed from service with immediate effect...

From Wikipedia I can see SSE has decided not to comply with three new dirt pollution laws
* 1& 2 were closed rather than install Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) to the plant
- Unit 3 if it kept going would need to comply with EU Large Combustion Plant Directive
- Closure was already on the cards due to In December 2013 SSE announcing that Ferrybridge would opt out from (not comply with) the EU Industrial Emissions Directive ..that law coming in 2016 means plants can only operate for about 2 operating years after that date (unless seemingly the national gov gives you a special permit)

May 20, 2015 at 11:54 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Tmhe TINY new Multifuel venture next door will continue
FM1 & FM2 (68 MW & 50MW) "The multifuel power station produces low carbon electricity and heat by burning waste derived fuel from various sources of processed municipal solid waste, commercial and industrial waste and waste wood."
haha low carbon as in "uses up more carbon"

But Phil Whitehurst, national officer of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union (GMB) said the closure would be "devastating news".
He said: "The power station has years of life left to supply electricity at a fraction of the price of other energy suppliers.
"As things stand the only thing consumers will get from some of these suppliers are higher bills.
"Unlike Ferrybridge, none of the components and little of the labour will be sourced from the UK."

What's going to happen to the £250m Carbon Capture project at Ferrybridge (opened on 30 November 2008, Chris "the liar" Huhne) ?
..I guess it closes too ..All its websites are already dead

May 20, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The unions, who have been toeing the green line for years, are squealing loudly. If I were one of their members I would be wondering what I'd been paying them for all this time.

Union members have been paying to help Ed Miliband become prime minister.

May 20, 2015 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

More work forces in the UK condemned, by Political decisions, not opposed by mainstream Politicians.

Lions led by donkeys.

Lib/Lab/Con + Trades Unions, should all hang their heads in shame.

This is what UKIP should be talking about, because no one can defend it without off loading blame onto everybody else, saying it was not their fault.

Forget the Brown Shirts, meet the self-staining Green Pants.

May 20, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

MikeH:

...SSE explained that gas is becoming more economical as "carbon taxes" rise...
Seems like a classic case of reverse subsidy, although the green lobby will have us believe that coal is heavily subsidised. By this token one can see that anti-business, using its Statist power to make one, over-priced, supremely inefficient industry's product relatively cheaper by making another's relatively more expensive.

May 20, 2015 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Harry Passfield coal and gas are becoming more economic, as Unreliables continue to deliver their designed in Unreliability

May 20, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

stewgreen has it about right.
But I should add that it is my recollection that in 1990 (at Privatisation) the plant's sale price was discounted by the projected cost of Flue Gas Desulphurisation plant (which had already been installed at neighbouring Drax). I guess this discount amounted to a Grauniad style 'subsidy' - more especially since the succession of operators kicked the FGD can down the road for 15 years before deciding to proceed. The FGD plant was commissioned in 2009 and was fitted to two of the four units (3 & 4). Of course, as was discovered at Drax, the FGD installations (promised to be the 'saviour of the British coal industry' when installed) in fact allowed the privatised operators to burn all sorts of cheap dodgy fuel to help pay for the costs of running the FGD plant.
Old hands will remember that the installation of FGD was in fact another greenie scam to attack coal. At the time, the doomsayers were wailing about 'acid rain', which was subsequently shown to be little to do with coal powered power station emissions.
It should be noted that two of the three surviving British deep coal mines (Thoresby and Kellingley) will close this year. Leaving only Hatfield (facing an extremely uncertain future), which ironically is in Ed Milipede's constituency.
Meanwhile, coal generation in Europe outside the UK is certainly on the up, not only in Germany but in Ukraine, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo etc. all of which plan to flog some of their output to the EU.
You couldn't make it up, obviously.
It will all continue in the UK until everyone north of Watford Gap starts to regularly shiver in the dark.

May 20, 2015 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

For pity's sake Cameron, get real, make a name for yourself, repeal the stupid climate change act.

May 20, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

2GW ? Pah!
A mere 2 thousand households worth of wind energy, my Big Green Wind energy calculator says two or three more windmills has that covered.
Come on Mr Gummer get your fully funded bid in.

/sarc off

May 20, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Justice Kennedy's eyebrow.
====================

May 20, 2015 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Get your Hg jeebies inna gutta da fisha; that's heavy, man. EPA mercury standards utterly fail cost/benefit analysis. File this under news you can't use until the day after never.
==============

May 20, 2015 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

"
Harry Passfield, Another Ian, I'm not sure you can point the green finger of blame entirely at women. Come up with the top warmists and Kathryn Hayhoe and Naomi Oreskes are fairly lonely in the male dominated collection of nuts. Cameron may be influenced by Mrs Cameron but there's plenty of evidence he has a soft green spot of his own.

May 20, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2"

But is Cameron's green spot getting positive or negative feedback?

May 20, 2015 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

Tony Lodge, writing in the Yorkshire Post, points out that the Carbon Floor price is the measure that has truly sunk Ferrybridge.

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/debate/columnists/tony-lodge-blame-the-last-government-for-shock-ferrybridge-decision-1-7270039

It's a pity he doesn't carry the numbers through - he quotes £23.83 per tonne of CO2, which is therefore £85.73 per tonne of coal taking the stoichiometric balance. That compares with a cost of coal of under $60/tonne, or blow £40/tonne, making that element of the tax over 200%. Meanwhile we continue to import 1GW of coal fired power most of the time via the BritNed connector (which is fed by the Maasvlaakte power stations at the mouth of the Rhine): they are only paying EU ETS rates, which Lodge reports as £5.30/tCO2, or £19.43/tonne of coal.

May 21, 2015 at 2:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

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