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British Industrial History

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Ferrybridge C Power Station

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Ferrybridge C Power Station (1966– )

The power station was originally built for and operated by the CEGB

1962 Work began at the site and was completed by 1968.

1965 November 1st. Three of the cooling towers collapsed due to vibrations in 85 mph winds. Although the structures had been built to withstand higher wind speeds, the design only considered average wind speeds over one minute and neglected shorter gusts. Furthermore, the grouped shape of the cooling towers meant that westerly winds were funnelled into the towers themselves, creating a vortex. Three out of the original eight cooling towers were destroyed and the remaining five were severely damaged. The towers were rebuilt and all eight cooling towers were strengthened to tolerate adverse weather conditions.

1966 Commission of Ferrybridge C began with one unit brought on line, feeding electricity into the National Grid, on 27 February 1966. Following the cooling tower accident, it was expected that the station would not be opened for some time after the scheduled date. However it was possible to connect one of the remaining towers to the now complete Unit 1. The reconstruction of the destroyed towers began in April 1966.

Ferrybridge C Power Station has four 500 MW generating sets, (known as units 1–4). In addition to the main generating sets the plant originally had four gas turbines with a combined capacity of 68 MW. Two were retired in the late 1990s reducing capacity to 34 MW. These units are used to start the plant in the absence of an external power supply.

Coal supply was by rail transport (initially 4m. tons a year in 1,000-ton Merry-go-round trains at the rate of 17 a day) and road transport and barge (initially 1m. tons on the Aire and Calder Navigation). Barge transport ended in the late 1990s.[ The automatic unloading equipment for the coal trains was built by Rhymney Engineering, a Powell Duffryn company. It used ultrasonic detection, capable of dealing with up to 99 wagons in a train (though initially trains had 35 hopper wagons), to control the door-opening gear to empty 5 wagons at a time into the bunkers.

The plant's two chimneys are 650 ft high and its eight cooling towers are 377 ft high.

1989 Ownership passed to PowerGen after the privatisation of the Central Electricity Generating Board.

1998 During the "dash for gas", Powergen closed Unit 4.

1999 Ferrybridge Power Station and Fiddlers Ferry Power Station in Cheshire were sold to Edison Mission Energy.

2001 Both stations were then sold on to AEP Energy Services Ltd (American Electric Power) in 2001

2004 Both stations were sold again to SSE plc in July 2004 for £136 million.

2005 SSE took the decision to fit Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) to the plant, installing equipment to scrub half of Ferrybridge's output; the decision was required to partially meet the specifications of the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD); in 2008 the boilers were fitted with Boosted Over Fire Air in order to reduce the NOx emissions. In 2009 FGD was commissioned on Units 3 and 4. The installation of FGD allowed SSE sign a 5-year agreement with UK Coal for 3.5 million tonnes of higher sulphur coal.

In December 2013 SSE announced that Ferrybridge would opt out from (not comply with) the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU); requiring the plant to close by the end of 2023, or after 17,500 hrs of operation after 1 January 2016.

The units without FGD (1 and 2) were closed on 28 March 2014 under the LCPD.

On 31 July 2014 a serious fire broke out in Ferrybridge Unit C. The fire was understood to have started in the fourth generating unit, with the no.3 unit also affected. Neither unit was operational at the time of the fire due to maintenance. Initial expectations were that unit 3 would be operational by November 2014, but unit 4 would not be operational before April 2015.

The hardworking staff got the unit up and running again albeit without its FGD plant, but as it ran with Unit 3 and burned very lower Sulphur Coal it never exceeded its Environmental Permit Emission Limit Values. It returned to service December 2014 and ran till March 2015 when it had run out of low Sulphur coal and SSE had decided to close the station so did not buy any more.

On 19 May 2015 SSE announced that the station would be closed by 31 March 2016, without Unit 4 reopening. The stated reasons were "irreparable damage" caused by the fire, and that the station was now a loss-making operation, predicted to lose £100 million over the next five years

See also

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