Longannet Power Station in Fife will switch-off the last of its four generating units today (Thursday 24th March) for the last time, concluding a 46-year shift for Scotland’s largest power station, and signalling the end of coal-fired electricity production in Scotland.
Constructed over eight years, Longannet was the largest coal power station in Europe when it came online in 1969. Capable of producing 2,400 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the grid, Longannet powered over 2 million homes on average every year it was operational*.
Even through the final winter, Longannet has been essential to meeting the electricity needs of Scotland and on average produced enough electricity to provide more than 25% of all the homes in Scotland.
Hugh Finlay, Generation Director at ScottishPower, said: “Longannet has contributed more electricity for the national grid than any other power station in Scotland’s history, and it is a sad day for everyone at ScottishPower. The highly-skilled team at Longannet have worked hard in difficult circumstances over the last 6 months to ensure that the station continued to operate at a high level over the winter.
“Originally designed to run for 25 years, the success of Longannet has been driven by substantial investment over the years and by the dedication of the men and women overseeing the station’s operations. Over the station’s lifetime thousands of people have worked tirelessly to keep Longannet running safely, and our thanks go out to every single person involved.
“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 ScottishPower 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.”
ScottishPower has been working closely with the Trade Unions, Local Councils and The Scottish Government to assess and manage the impact of Longannet’s closure. The station directly employs 236 people and ScottishPower has been in discussions with every individual employee. A number of opportunities have been made available for redeployment to other areas of the ScottishPower business, and early retirement and redundancy packages have also been offered. Around 45 team members will remain at the station until the end of December, working as part of the decommissioning team.
No decisions have been taken on the future of the site, but ScottishPower expects to outline its plans before the end of the year.
ScottishPower recently announced major investment plans for the next 5 years, with £1.3 billion set to be invested on average every year until 2020. During 2016 ScottishPower will continue work on a sub-sea interconnector between Ayrshire and the Wirral, a £500 million investment, which will increase the export of renewables and strengthen security of supply.
Six new onshore windfarms with investment of over £650 million are also currently in construction, and over £500 million will be spent this year strengthening the network of cables, power lines and substations that keep the lights on for 2.5 million homes and businesses. Before the end of 2016 ScottishPower will also open their new HQ, the largest single-occupier office to be built in Glasgow for two decades.
Longannet: The Facts
- *Longannet has produced over 400 terawatt hours (TWH) of electricity during its lifetime, enough to power 2.3million homes every year for 46 years.
- Since the first unit was commissioned, the station has run for a cumulative 918,315 operating hours, with Unit Two the highest at over 235,000 hours. Each of the four generating units has been in operation for over 200,000 hours
- During its lifetime the station has seen major changes in operating regimes moving from base load operation, for example in 1981 Unit One ran for 332 days of the year (91% availability), to a flexible two-shift operation regime, resulting in the plant making more than 4850 starts.
- Longannet has used over 177 million tonnes of coal, 2.7 million tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 0.5 million tonnes of biomass and other fuels, and 2.4 million cubic metres of natural gas.
- Over 60 billion cubic metres of cooling water from the Forth Estuary has passed through the station.
- Longannet Power Station was the third largest coal-fired power plant in Europe, and the second largest in the UK.
- The main site covers an area of 89 hectares (220 acres). It has four 600 megawatt (MW) turbine-generators. The plant was originally commissioned and opened between 1969 and 1973.
- The station used a range of coal from around the world including Scottish open-cast coal
- Typically Longannet required approximately 4 million tonnes of coal per year.