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« Greens trashing the environment part 527 | Main | Uberhubering »

Doom, doom, doom, another one bites the dust

Another coal fired power station is to close - this time imminently. Eon have apparently announced that time is running out for the Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire; its allowance under the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive will be exhausted by the end of the year at the latest. A warm summer or a cold autumn could see the curtains being drawn earlier.

Interesting times.


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Reader Comments (60)

Interesting times indeed.

I'm left wandering about who's included in the scope of the Large Combustion Plant Directive (all EU members or a subset who've signed a bit of paper?) - How are the other countries dealing with the conundrum that results apparently - if studiously adhered to - in an ever widening gap between demand and production ???

One does have to wonder about the lignite plants planned on top of the deposits in central Europe (Poland, Germany) etc

May 26, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Registered Commentertomo

"A campaign was launched by Keith Newby last year in a bid to save the towers, which have a distinctive pink hue."

Yes, Shropshire will still have some wealth creation potential, those cooling towers may draw in some tourist revenue, when the UK is reduced to being an Industrial Revolution theme park, wind power permitting.

May 26, 2015 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Just another reason to politely bow out of the EU.
What business is it of Brussels (effectively Paris and Berlin) what energy system we use? And more to the point what business is it of Brussels to actually ORDER the UK to close down power plants it disapproves of?

May 26, 2015 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Even greater reason to rid ourselves of membership of this short-sighted bureaucratic leviathan! Who knows, we could end up selling electricity to the EU from outside it.

May 26, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Has someone called the Germans yet to say there will be soon be more second-hand transformers going cheap?

May 26, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I keep waiting for the penny to drop (you know; about the fact that there WILL be blackouts under this policy); silly me, thats why they installed smart meters.

May 26, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Even if we leave the EU do you really think we wouldn't join these agreements anyway?

Our leadership is as Green as any in Europe. On both sides of the House.

May 26, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

From my limited knowledge of CRD / CRR - if I understand it right, an EU DIRECTIVE needs to be enshrined into local law whereas an EU REGULATION doesn't need local parliament to approve.

If this is correct, which dolts ratified the directive?

May 26, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Amazing though that this directive arose from the non-existent threat of SO2 & acid rain, not CO2.

Mind you I'd much rather have the loose EU CO2 emission targets than the legally binding UK Climate Change Act.

And of course the Longannet closure has nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with the unholy combo of Tory carbon taxes and National Grid charges.

Can the free market save us?

May 26, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Don't worry, Amber has it all under control. She knows what she is doing. Buy generator futures.

May 26, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Germany gets around it, by back-dating their starting point prior to their reunification. All the dirty, old & inefficient power stations from the DDR are thus included in their baseline!

May 26, 2015 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

The LCPD, which was passed in 2001, replaced an earlier Directive of 1988. Whatever one thinks of its provisions, it cannot be called a surprise.

Back around 2006-09, ScottishPower owner Iberdrola was bragging of its £170 million plan to fit Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) to Longannet, which would have brought it into conformity with the LPCD and extended its life sine die. It was also busy grant farming for CCS schemes each one dafter than the last. It's on record when it quit the CCS fest but I don't know when (if) it dropped the FGD scheme, which seemed well underway (assuming press reports are to be believed). Does anyone know?

May 26, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

As per my first comment - what's the overall picture? Does anybody know if it's summarised anywhere ? It looks quite piecemeal with some folk wangling the regs to get their "damp smoky bonfires" through on technicalities / loopholes....

In the meantime our "Rolls Royce" public servants scamper about gold plating every whim emanating from the usual suspects....

Plan?? - what plan?

Phillip Bratby

I've seen that future - in Nigeria - where every yard has a generator. Given the way our twerps are going - the Chinese are probably planning production hikes to meet demand.....

May 26, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Bish, will this mean that the birthplace of the industrial revolution will have to be renamed Dontbrookcoaldale?

May 26, 2015 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPMT

Do we get to know which UK MEP's voted for this? Especially those still in office. It would be helpful to understand, how much they understood then, and whether their understanding has now changed, in the light of reality.

Did any UK MEP's vote against it?

May 26, 2015 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

tomo: As Amber is a historian, she will know what life was like before electricity. Generators don't figure in history.

May 26, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Yes the SNP are against restricting emissions NOT

'The proposed law is designed to limit the emissions of certain pollutants from medium sized combustion plants such as gas turbines and gas and diesel engines, however for some sectors and operators the costs may be disproportionate.
Conservative MEPs remain concerned, however, as small back-up generators would be forced to comply with the directive.
This could have a detrimental impact on remote communities, such as Scottish islands, where small generators provide additional power during peak periods and maintain power for emergency systems.

Astonishingly, despite the potential impact on Scotland, the SNP's own group failed to back the exemption for offshore platforms, or support an exemption for back-up generators.'

Seems the SNP MEP's are in some stupid Green grouping and rather than back the exemption they stayed away hiding in the bars so as not to upset their partners.

May 26, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

cheshirered/Alan the Brit
Tomo hits the nail on the head on this one. And (as so often) it's worth listening to what Booker has to say.
British civil servants have a long and unenviable record for 'gold-plating' EU Directives and an equally long record for finessing the wishes of their ministers. Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister are still the best Handbooks available for understanding the mindset in Whitehall.
Leaving the EU will solve nothing because, as Booker tells us, even more of the regulations under which we live emanate from supra-national bodies that are world-wide rather than simply EU inventions. (Though he does make the point that if the UK were out of the EU it would have a seat of its own at the relevant discussions rather than having to go along with the EU consensus).
As a consequence the UK is quite probably bottom of the league when it comes to interpreting EU Directives in a way which serves national interests and if you talk to some of the (British) civil servants in Brussels they will, off the record, expound at length on the frustration felt by many in the Commission at the extent to which Brits complain about EU regulations when the blame lies squarely with Whitehall for deliberately going beyond what the Directive or Regulation demands and discouraging parliament from examining their output too closely.
Again, Booker has over the years provided examples including at least one (details escape me) where a small firm went out of business because Whitehall insisted on applying to the full a Directive which was never intended to apply to firms in that situation at all!
As far as energy goes, I understand (others here will know better than me) that there is a lot more flexibility built into the EU regulatory system than we are led to believe. As one of the aforementioned civil servants put it to me a year or two ago (different context admittedly), the EU, for all its faults, is intended to be for the good of the people of Europe. It's not supposed to be a sort of suicide pact.
However until there is a wholesale clearout at DECC and Cameron stops listening to Sam and — the one thing that might just mark a change in thinking — exiles that eco-maniac creep Letwin to the furthest corner of the backbenches (or better, makes him Ambassador to Patagonia) then in the EU or out is going to make no difference.
You can argue that the UK would be better off out or not but if it would it is to a great extent because Whitehall/Westminster/Downing Street has never made serious and concerted attempts to shape the development of the continent in a way which would suit the UK.
Starting with Fisheries where we gave virtually everything away without saying a word when an insistence on maintaining our limits would almost certainly have been successful and would have sent the message that the UK was a negotiator to be reckoned with and not one that could safely be ignored.
Sorry if I've wandered a bit O/T!

May 26, 2015 at 1:52 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

M Courtney & Mike Jackson: interesting comments and tbf you're both right.

May 26, 2015 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

The EU has become a wonderful way of boosting final salary pension schemes for failed civil servants and politicians.

Bent bananas, cucumbers and sausages are banned. People with excess curvature are welcome.

May 26, 2015 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mike Jackson
thanks ...

That familiar refrain "something must be done" for the nth time... And it must - that's a fact. It doesn't matter where you look in the public sector the incompetence, waste and misapplication of funds is on a scale that simply beggars belief - as is the quite towering hubris of the peculating oafs in post.

Moaning and railing about it (as I've been known to....) is futile and on the road to self harm / abuse :-)

In my own corner of all this when time allows I fight the fight - £3million-ish in public funds, five years and and an upcoming ombudsman report to show for it... I want the perpetrators sacked, de-pensioned etc., etc. We have a group in our society that have maneuvered themselves outside the rules and laws that the rest of us have to operate under - totally for their own benefit - and it *will* stop one way or another - I'd rather it was before they ran out of our money or precipitate crises that cause way more harm than they've already managed.....

May 26, 2015 at 2:55 PM | Registered Commentertomo

The sooner the lights start going out the better, perhaps then the public will wake up to this impending disaster.

May 26, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

@ Mike Jackson: I do follow Booker regularly & agree with what you say. I have a real problem with any grouping that possesses ALL the trappings of democracy, yet democracy doesn't exist. We have an EU Parliament, which has no real power, we have also had the MEPs expenses scandal which is no doubt still being abused. Yet it appears to be the EU Commission that wealds the real power, unelected, undemocratic, answerable to no one! Medical equipment is an EU Competence. Breast implants are considered to be medical equipment. I know of no one hauled before the EU Parliament to explain how the PIP scandal came about. Food Safety & Standards, is an EU Competence, I know of no one hauled before that august body to explain the horsemeat scandal. Methinks I smell the stench of corruption & incompetence for which no one will pay, except the EU taxpayer!

May 26, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Alan the Brit, the EU has extra thick carpets, on top of deluxe underlay, that problems can be conveniently swept beneath, without too many people noticing.

It is socialist democracy at its worst, designed by socialists, for socialist aristocracy. Working people are never asked for their opinions.

May 26, 2015 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mike Jackson - re civil servants implement EU directives.

It's my belief that the UK system of justice whereby the Jury is at the heart of our legal system, creates a huge degree of consensus about the laws of our land so that we all agree we must abide by the letter of the law.

In contrast, under continental systems of justice where the public are not the final arbiter of justice, the judiciary do not have the same kind of public support. So, it's my belief that under systems of justice without a jury, the judges need to be absolutely certain the law has been broken - in other words, you aren't found guilty until you've gone well beyond what the law actually says.

In other words, this culture of implementing the law stems from the democratic legitimacy for justice obtained through the jury. That means historically we pass the laws as we intend them to be implemented.

In contrast, on the continent where you don't get found guilty unless you've flagrantly breached the law - they pass the law expecting it to take effect ONLY WHEN there is a flagrant breach.

And unfortunately, when you have a EU system of law which is intended only to take effect for flagrant breaches and you put it into the UK system where we expect to abide by the letter, we end up having a far stricter interpretation than on the continent.

That's why I think we end up having stricter interpretation.

And unless you end the right to jury - and perhaps give us a few centuries to dumb down to continental standards - unless or until we leave the EU, we will always suffer this problem.

May 26, 2015 at 8:16 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Bad timing .Implementing a directive that could cause winter power cuts just as we are going into an in out E U referendum.

May 26, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Given that the carbon floor price is set at a level that is designed to ensure that coal fired power is uneconomic, perhaps the DECC should be asked why they are not treating as a base case the idea that all our coal capacity will close within a year, and how they propose to handle the resulting power shortfalls.

May 26, 2015 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

We, the Germans, and others, have no difficulty in building coal-fired capacity with the requisite scrubbers to meet the LCPD.

The problem was/is Ed's 2008 Climate Change Act. Never mind coal, this effectively killed investment in planned large-scale CHP and new gas-fuelled power stations. Only renewables, nuclear and CCS-abated coal and gas could meet the threshold.

Ignoring that, who in their right minds would build fossil-fuelled plant just to follow wind/solar load? They have the same problem in Germany.

This was compounded by unfocused subsidies under the Renewables Obligation, preferential access for wind power generation, carbon taxes and levies and now the Greenpeace/FoE/BBC/Guardian axis of fossil-fuels disinvestment hysteria.

The expiry of the Renewables Obligation in March 2017 and 'contracts for difference' is a desperate attempt to introduce wider supply-based subsidies, but it still doesn't address the problem of building desperately needed base load generators in the short to medium term.

Meanwhile, the disinvestors seem not to have noticed the ca. 4GW of dedicated diesel-fuelled STOR plant and all the filthy biomass co-firing that has been being quietly introduced in the attempt to save remaining base load generators.

May 27, 2015 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterNLys

@ It doesn't add up

> ... the DECC should be asked why they are not treating as a base case the idea that all our coal capacity will close within a year, and how they propose to handle the resulting power shortfalls

There is no way to make DECC answer that question with any rigour or honesty

We have the same issue in Aus, as do most countries

I fear that the truthful answer to such a question is: "You must reduce your demand", ie. lower your standard of living significantly

May 27, 2015 at 2:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

A C Osborn:

"The sooner the lights start going out the better, perhaps then the public will wake up to this impending disaster."

That should read ONLY THEN.
The public are lulled by the reassuring murmurs of the politicians who, in turn, are lulled by the reassuring murmurs of the public servants who are lulled by the reassuring murmurs of the recipients of subsidies for renewable energy.
WHEN the blackouts start, there will be anger, confusion and the sound of feet running for safety. The Inquiry will find no-one is to blame, it is due to Climate Change or melting arctic ice or that little dog on the pedestrian crossing, but the (surviving) politicians will no longer believe in renewable energy.

May 27, 2015 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

The answer, for everyone living in the country, is going to be to move off electricity as far as possible. Now this is quite doable. One simply has to go to oil fired heating and hot water, gas cooking, and LED lighting. With a solid fuel stove to top up. The electricity consumption will fall dramatically - all you'll be running is the CH pump and the lighting and the computers - and these last can increasingly be low power and probably even run off trickle charge batteries if you set your mind to it.

But the CO2 emissions will be at the same levels or even higher. Probably higher if the solid fuel is smokeless coke type briquettes.

The futility of it.

Not to mention the fact that whatever the UK does will make zero difference to the planet since who really cares if we reduce the total output of CO2 by one percent or so while the rest of the world is raising it by 10s of percent. That Mr Miliband could ever think the Climate Change Act was either desirable or possible to implement is the best reason for not electing him Prime Minister. Its probably the most insane law Parliament has ever passed.

One which cannot be implemented, which no-one intends to even try to implement, and which, even did they succeed in implementing, would not achieve its objectives.

May 27, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

What would make sense in this crazy world is for government to seriously address energy demand. Instead of wasting billions of consumers' money on so-called smart meters and manipulating industrial demand, they should be raising (and implementing) building standards so every new house is 'zero energy'.

This would provide real, long-term employment and address fuel poverty.

May 27, 2015 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterNLys


Sorry everyone, we have already worked it out ourselves!

Carbon tax was misjudged and made coal uneconomic
The Conservatives need to end the discredited carbon tax as a priority
"The shock announcement of the early closure of one of Britain's biggest power stations, at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire – seven years before it needed to be closed – has come as a body blow to Britain's energy security. It comes just two months after Scotland's biggest power plant similarly announced it would close next year due to policies, introduced by the Coalition, which had rendered the plant uneconomic.
The Carbon Price Floor is arguably one of the most hidden and unknown but ultimately damaging pieces of modern industrial taxation. To use a shorter and more descriptive title, this carbon tax is slowly forcing the premature closure of the backbone of our electricity generating base."

May 27, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Must get my genny out this summer - give it a test run....

May 27, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

"Smartmeters" sound like "Smartmotorways" - no new capacity, just a whole lot more intrusive surveillance and managerialism.

May 27, 2015 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

'Yes the SNP are against restricting emissions NOT'

Nobody said that or even hinted it. There are 3 horns to the trilemma; security, price and CO2 emissions. They are incompatible but the first two are priorities. Tories don't even care about the first two and are crippling the power industry with the latter. So aim for the right target eh!

btw MEPC is about limiting Oxides of Nitrogen, Sulphur dioxide and dust, not CO2.

Apart from that I agree the SNP failed there very badly.

May 27, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"Tories don't even care about the first two and are crippling the power industry with the latter"

A unilateral Carbon floor price anyone - and the vultures are circling on the coal generators and upon all of British industry come to think of it and George.......................what of his 'fortunes'?

I get sick of hearing how wonderful George is and of his marvellous economic 'miracle'. FFS, it's all just an illusion built on taxes, hyper boosting the property market and a banking bubble, a broiling furnace effervescing away at the future economic health and finances of the nation. Quick fix effin clueless George the funny money junkie and he did it: by robbing the careful [savers] to bail out the government and the profligate.


May 27, 2015 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

James, stop trying to say the SNP are not singing from the same Hymn sheet as all the rest of our stupid politicians on CO2 reduction.

Comparison of Manifestos

SNP on Climate Change

Will ensure the UK matches, and supports, Scotland’s commitments to carbon reduction. And, we will call on the UK government to match the approach of the Scottish Government with a dedicated Climate Justice Fund.

May 27, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

G. #3, the trap that wasn't seen is that the blackouts will most likely come when it is cold. That train of reasoning down the track to disbelief in renewables, will also entrain doubt about the need to fear warming.

Too bad there must be so much suffering along the wayside.

May 27, 2015 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Regardless of whether it happens or not: this stuff should be the basis of revolution (peaceful if possible).
If people do not revolt against this then what would they consider a justifiable reason??

May 27, 2015 at 4:20 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Wikipedia is a useful read: In February 2014 fire damaged a generator in Ironbridge B, and in May E.ON announced that the 370 MW unit would not be repaired, reducing the plant's generation capacity.[11][12] Parts of the turbine casing have been removed and lie outside on-site.

The plant was 47 years old. Coal was delivered on a branch line that was not used for anything else, so it was long past it's due date.

May 27, 2015 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

National Grid ran on 6.1% reserves last year including paid for possible industrial consumption cuts, 4.1% based on generation alone. That was with what remained of Ferrybridge, and all of Longannet, and Ironbridge. The prudent minimum is 10%.
It takes 3 years to build new CCGT, 4 for USC coal. UK faces grave risks of brownouts and blackouts for the next three winters. It is already too late to do anything about that. UK is now subect to the ancient Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times.

May 27, 2015 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

May 27, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

And where did the Telegraph bury that telling piece of reporting?

May 27, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

Sure Dung, thy will be brung.

May 27, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

DNFTT, but the retarded lagomorph claims "Coal was delivered on a branch line that was not used for anything else, so it was long past it's due date."

Complete and utter round objects! Since last year, the branch line has been used to deliver wood-chips imported from the USA to feed the 'renewable' biomass generator at Ironbridge. Sorry Eli, you've either been misinformed, or are lying.

May 27, 2015 at 9:19 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

OK, it is still a branch line that is only used to feed the furnace, and it is still a really old generating plant. In other words slated for close down.

May 27, 2015 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Is it by any chance National Troll week?

May 27, 2015 at 10:19 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Salopian, once the UK starts having power cuts, because the reliable energy is no longer available, the public support for non existent global warming will show a steep decline, until 'Green' is shown to be toxic. Power cuts will continue, and unrest will grow.

It is a shame that so much will have been suffered, by so many, to satisfy the political delusions, of so few.

May 27, 2015 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Did anyone else hear that the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, is Elmer Fudd. "Shhh. Be vewy, vewy quwiete, she's chasing wabbits".

May 27, 2015 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commenternicholas

"slated for close down"

Eli - we have a thing here called the EU that does the slating. Some of our power plants are old, but they are not closed because they have worn out. I'm not quite sure what you're suggesting anyway - that we build new ones?

May 28, 2015 at 12:30 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

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