LONGANNET power station, the last coal-fired power station remaining in Scotland, UK, ceased generating electricity for good on 24 March, after 46 years of operation.
Its owners, Scottish Power, said in March 2015 that the closure was likely, after the site lost out on a vital contract to provide power to National Grid. The contract was instead awarded to SSE’s gas-fired Peterhead power station. When it first began generating electricity in 1969, Longannet was the largest coal-fired power station in Europe, with a capacity of 2,400 MW, and over its lifespan it has generated 400 TWH of electricity. The final unit was switched off at 15:00 local time. Scottish Power tweeted a link to a video of the moment.
The power station was designed to be operational for 25 years, but continued investment and development has ensured its useful life continued well beyond its projected lifespan. Even in the last six months of operations, Longannet powered more than a quarter of homes in Scotland. Around 236 staff were employed at the site. Of these, 45 will be kept on to oversee decommissioning works. Scottish Power says that the remainder have been offered jobs on its other sites, or early retirement and redundancy packages.
“Coal has long been the dominant force in Scotland’s electricity generation fleet, but the closure of Longannet signals the end of an era. For the first time in more than a century no power produced in Scotland will come from burning coal. Although Scottish Power is at the forefront of renewable energy development, we will be reflecting today on the important contribution that Longannet has made in keeping the lights on for millions of homes and businesses for nearly half a century,” said Scottish Power generation director Hugh Finlay.
Longannet power station used 177m t of coal, 2.7m t of heavy fuel oil, 500,000 t of biomass and other fuels, and 2.4m m3 of natural gas over the past 46 years.
Scottish Power says that it will outline its plans for redeveloping the site by the end of the year. The company is spending £1.3bn over the next five years to strengthen supplies, including £650m on six new offshore wind farms and £500m on improving network cables, power lines and substations.
News of the closure has been welcomed by environmental groups including WWF Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland.
“Coal is the dirtiest of the main fossil fuels and in a peak year Longannet was producing 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, around a fifth of all Scotland’s climate change emissions. The closure of Longannet will be the single biggest reduction in Scotland’s climate change emissions ever,” said Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Dixon. “For those who’ve worked at the plant it may well be an emotional day but as a country it shows the positive steps we’ve taken in the fight against climate change and for clean, renewable energy.”
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