SSE will close Fiddler’s Ferry coal power station by 31 March 2020 | Credit: SSE
SSE will close its last coal-fired power station early next year, to leave just five coal plants left on UK grid
The UK’s journey away from fossil fuels gathered steam yesterday with SSE’s announcement of plans to close another coal-fired power station, leaving just five coal plants operational across the country.
SSE said it will close its last coal-fired power station, Fiddler’s Ferry in Cheshire, by March 31 2020.
The firm said the move was shaped by the UK government’s commitment to end unabated coal-fired generation by 2025 and its move this week to legally adopt a net-zero emissions target for 2050.
“Financially, the station is making significant losses and our projections show that this will continue to be the case,” said Stephen Wheeler, managing director of thermal energy at SSE, citing losses of £40m in the plant’s last financial year.
“At nearly 50 years old, the station is unable to compete with more efficient modern gas and renewable generation,” he added.
SSE’s decision follows a winter that has been shown to be the greenest yet for the UK’s energy system, with coal power fuelling just five per cent of electricity, according to the National Grid’s 2019 Winter Review. Wind generated 18 per cent, nuclear 18 per cent, biomass six per cent, and gas 42 per cent, according to the report.
The shift away from coal was helped by an unusually warm winter which dampened energy demand, the report added, making it easier to avoid coal in favour of running gas power plants, which produce half the carbon emissions. Strong wind speeds also boosted wind output, further driving down emissions.
The report concludes that the UK grid’s carbon intensity is half the level of five years ago and will likely fall further as more coal power stations close. SSE’s announcement follows EDF Energy’s decision to close its Cottam coal plant this September.