A major coal power station in Yorkshire will close at the end of September after it failed to secure a government subsidy to provide backup power next winter.
Losing out on a capacity market contract sounded the death knell for Eggborough, which supplies power to 2m homes and is believed to employ about 200 people.
“Already on the ropes, Eggborough missing out on a capacity market contract was the final straw for this once-great power station,” said Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the ECIU thinktank.
The plant is run by Czech power firm EPH, which bought two of British Gas owner Centrica’s large gas plants last year, and also owns an old power coal plant in Northumberland which it is converting to burn wood.
The firm said Eggborough was no longer economically viable without the support from the scheme, the government’s key insurance policy for keeping the lights on.
Adam Booth, managing director at Eggborough Power Ltd, said: “With the age of the plant and the current government’s policy that all UK coal-fired power generation must cease by2025, Eggborough has been under threat of closure for the past few years.”
The last remaining coal power stations
By capacity (GW) and year they were commissioned
1 Killroot Capacity 0.52GW,
commissioned in 1982
2 Aberthaw B 1.58GW, 1972
3 Drax 1.94GW, 1987
4 Eggborough 1.96GW, 1967
5 Fiddlers Ferry 1.96GW, 1971
6 West Burton A 2.00GW, 1968
7 Cottam 2.00GW, 1969
8 Ratcliffe-on-Soar 2.00GW, 1968
Guardian graphic | Source: Wikipedia
In the region of 200 people are understood to work at the plant, and the company said it hoped some could avoid redundancy by switching to decommissioning and demolition roles.
Eggborough has been generating electricity for more than half a century and its closure at the end of September means there will be just seven coal power stations left in the UK. Scotland already has none.
The economics of coal have become increasingly untenable because of a government carbon tax and the relatively low price of gas, causing three plants to shut alone in 2015.
The government, which has committed to phasing out coal by 2025 to cut carbon emissions, had predicted at least one coal power station would shut this year. Coal is rapidly dwindling as a source of electricity, providing a third of the power in January as it did for January 2017.
Eggborough’s owners said they are still committed to their aspiration of building a gas plant on the site, which would be capable of powering 2m homes.