One of the country’s largest coal-fired power stations is to stop generating electricity because it is not economically viable.
The owner of the Eggborough plant in East Yorkshire said it had taken the decision to close it because it had failed to secure funding through the so-called “capacity market” for 2018-2019.
That is the process by which suppliers are paid to be on standby to provide electricity in the event of a shortage – to prevent the lights going out.
The station, which is located just off the M62 between the towns of Knottingley and Snaith, has the capability to provide 5% of the country’s total electricity needs – enough to power two million homes.
It began operation in 1970 and was originally only supposed to remain in service until 1995.
But it has become the latest casualty of the Government’s drive to phase out the most-polluting coal-fired plants as more of the slack is taken up by gas and renewables such as wind power.
A new generation of nuclear plants – starting with Hinkley Point C in 2025 – is due to come on stream to form part of the mix.
Eggborough Power Limited said it would meet its obligations under its current capacity market contract, which runs through to the end of September this year before ceasing operations.
It was unable to say exactly how many staff were facing redundancy.
Managing director, Adam Booth, 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.”
It is hoped that a new gas-fired station will be built in its place.
Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said of the decision to shut Eggborough: “Coal-fired generation in the UK is in freefall, and more plant closures – as expected by the Government – will see this continue.
“This result follows the news that coal generation in January 2018 – typically one of the most coal-intensive months of the year – is down by more than two-thirds compared to just one year ago.
“The terminal decline of coal power is coming at the right time, when ever-cheaper renewables are able to fill in the gap, and concerns about air pollution spread around the country.
“Looking ahead, the UK can continue to lead the world away from the most polluting fossil fuel, one of the most important factors in meeting global climate targets.”