Longannet Power Station. Image: Alan Murray-Rust // licensed for re-use.

After 115 years of history, Scotland closes its very last coal-fired plant

The largest and last coal-fired plant in operation in Scotland was officially shut down, marking an end for an 115-years-long history of burning coal in the country.

Longannet Power Station. Image: Alan Murray-Rust // licensed for re-use.

Longannet Power Station. Image: Alan Murray-Rust // licensed for re-use.

Officials, journalists and former workers crowded the control room of the Longannet power station to say their goodbyes. Over the decades, the plant has served Scotland well and up until its last days it still provided a quarter of all Scottish homes with electricity. It was also responsible for a fifth of the country’s carbon emissions. Regulations, carbon taxes and expensive maintenance prompted Scottish Power, which owns Longannet, to close down the plant. “Ok, here we go,” said one engineer before pressing a big red button that discontinued the turbines.

Taking over from Longannet will be nuclear and gas, helped by the booming renewable energy industry. Home to 5 million people, Scotland generates enough wind power to supply 33% of its residents’ energy needs. It’s growing fast too. While the rest of the UK and much of Europe are slowing down their renewable energy implementation, Scotland doubled its wind power in only one year, as of 2015. The country aims to become 100% renewable energy power by 2020 — that’s only four years from now!

Solar panels are not to be neglected either, although weather conditions largely favor wind turbines. “Sunshine generated more than four-fifths of the electricity and hot water needs of homes fitted with solar panels,” said WWF Scotland.

“Coal has long been the dominant force in Scotland’s electricity generation fleet, but the closure of Longannet signals the end of an era,” Hugh Finlay, generation director at Scottish Power, told the Guardian.

“For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this is a hugely significant step, marking the end of coal and the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland,” Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said in a statement.

Amber Rudd, the UK’s Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, said last year that Britain will  replace all coal fired plants with gas. All UK coal-fired power plants will shut down by 2025.

via Think Progress.

6 thoughts on “After 115 years of history, Scotland closes its very last coal-fired plant

  1. Scottish Scientist

    A pumped-storage hydro scheme for a site in the Scottish Highlands, that can be super-sized as required, for Scottish, British or European needs.

    World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
    https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/worlds-biggest-ever-pumped-storage-hydro-scheme-for-scotland/

    “The maximum potential energy which could be stored by such a scheme is colossal – about 6800 Gigawatt-hours – or 283 Gigawatt-days – enough capacity to balance and back-up the intermittent renewable energy generators such as wind and solar power for the whole of Europe!”

  2. Scottish Scientist

    Deep sea hydrogen storage – an off-shore variation on power-to-gas.

    Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power
    https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/off-shore-electricity-from-wind-solar-and-hydrogen-power/

    “The diagram shows how hydrogen gas can be used to store energy from renewable-energy platforms floating at sea by sending any surplus wind and solar electrical power down a sub-sea cable to power underwater high-pressure electrolysis to make compressed hydrogen to store in underwater inflatable gas-bags.

    It’s potentially very cheap because no super-strong pressure containment vessels are required – the ambient hydrostatic pressure which is proportional to depth serves to compress the hydrogen gas to containable densities.”

  3. Scottish Scientist

    As for the closure of Longannet, this has not been a Scottish government decision but a commercial decision by Scottish Power within the legal framework controlled by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ofgem and the National Grid.

    There is a concern of many experts in Scotland, which I share, that it is premature at this time to close Longannet before sufficient robust back-up power supply capacity is in place to deal with every possible failure condition which could arise.

    EXPRESS – Scotland faces power crisis warns expert
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/645103/Scotland-faces-power-crisis-warns-expert

    My scientific advice, falling on deaf ears as per usual, is immediately to nationalise Longannet and for the plant to be kept operational, on stand-by, ready to be started up again to provide emergency back-up power in the event of a power supply crisis. This to be paid for out of the public purse because it will be good value to secure Scotland’s power supply in the short term.

    However, if we sit back, allow market forces to determine that Longannet now shuts for good, if we allow Scottish power to decommission the plant as they have no doubt started to do, then it is going to be very expensive and time consuming to put it all back together again in working order, which will mean an extended period of a precarious insecure power supply with power cuts.

    It is not a good plan for Scotland to be depending on England for power when there is no wind because there may come a time when England has not enough spare power to provide to Scotland and then we will get power cuts.

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