A major blaze erupted at the Didcot power station in Oxfordshire last night, forcing the operator to shut the plant down.
25 fire appliances fought the blaze at the RWE nPower owned natural gas Didcot B station from 9pm on Sunday evening, with fire brigades from as far as 30 miles away called in to assist.
Despite the widespread damage to the station, which generates up to 1,360MW of electricity, enough to power a million homes, officials are confident the accident won’t have any effect on electricity supplies.
"There is absolutely no risk to the public from the smoke plume and we are confident there will be no effect on electricity,” said Oxfordshire Fire Service chief officer Dave Etheridge.
"It was a very serious fire and we are working very hard in very difficult conditions. Thankfully we have had no reports of injuries."
RWE npower’s spokesperson said: "We can confirm that no one is injured which is clearly the most important thing and also that the fire is now under control.”
"Obviously the plant has been shut down."
Investigators will visit the site today to assess the extent of the damage and determine the cause of the blaze. The officials said the fire was neither a result of a terrorist attack nor arson.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "I've been reassured by National Grid that there is no risk to electricity supplies.
"I will be keeping in touch with the relevant authorities throughout. My priority is to understand the cause of the fire and get the affected unit back generating electricity as soon as it's safe to do so."
The Didcot power station was launched in 1997. With an average thermal efficiency of 55 per cent, the station is one of the most efficient in the world, RWE npower says.
The plant has two electricity generating modules, each consisting of two gas turbines and a steam turbine, with an associated generator at each turbine. The exhaust gases from the gas turbines pass through special boilers, known as heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), where steam is raised to power the steam turbines.
Unlike coal fired plants, the natural gas powered Didcot station doesn’t generate any sulphur dioxide emissions and only emits half the amount of carbon dioxide and less than a fifth of the amounts of oxides of nitrogen.