Eggborough coal power station

Eggborough power station to close this year amid continued coal decline

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Eggborough power station is set to close following 50 years of operation after it failed to secure funding through the “capacity market” for 2018-2019.

The coal-fired plant in East Yorkshire said it would meet its obligations under its current capacity market contract, which runs to the end of September 2018.

The 'capacity market' pays suppliers to be available to provide electricity to ensure the lights do not go out in UK homes.

But without a contract for future years it “will cease to be economically viable to continue operations at the station”, which the company said supplied 5 per cent of the power in the UK, though coal power overall declined to lows of 5 per cent in 2016. 

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; and Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire, while a seventh, Fiddler’s Ferry, in Cheshire, is capable of co-firing coal and biomass.

Adam Booth, managing director at Eggborough Power, 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.”

Numbers of potential redundancies and associated timing are subject to consultation with staff representatives, the company said.

But there may be a number of jobs to support decommissioning, demolition and future business opportunities beyond September 2018.

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

Ministers have said they will implement limits for the amount of carbon dioxide coal plants can emit from 1 October 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The move implements a pledge originally made in 2015 to end “unabated” (without technology to cut carbon emissions) coal generation in Great Britain by 2025 as part of efforts to tackle climate change.

Mike MacDonald, negotiations officer for the union Prospect, 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.”

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.

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