One more coal plant goes down – EDF’s 2 GW Cottam plant to close

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Fifty years of generation at the 2,000 MW coal-fired power station at Cottam in North Nottinghamshire will end on 30 September, as a result of the drive to decarbonise the electricity sector.

The decision reflects the challenging market conditions over the last few years – Cottam is understood to have no power sales contracts in place for beyond September. The company is to start consultation with trades union partners and employee representatives at the plant, with some employees already transferred to alternative roles within EDF Energy. 

Cottam Plant Manager Andy Powell said: ‘When the power station was built it was designed to operate for 30 years. It’s a credit to our people, the engineering and EDF Energy’s investment that it has operated for more than 50. There has been an aspiration to move away from coal for a long time now and we have prepared thoroughly for the closure.’

EDF Energy currently operates the Cottam and nearby West Burton A coal power stations in North Nottinghamshire, each with a generating capacity of 2,000 MW. West Burton A has capacity agreements in place for three of its four units until the end of September 2021. EDF Energy says it is committed to honouring these agreements and will review the future of that station beyond that date.

Analysis by the CarbonBrief website suggests that closure of Cottam will leave just four UK coal-fired power stations – Ratcliffe in Nottinghamshire; remaining coal-fired units at Drax, Yorkshire; West Burton in Lincolnshire; and Aberthawe B, South Wales – operating, mostly with capacity market contracts, next winter.

Mike MacDonald, Negotiations Officer with trade union Prospect, said that proper planning for a smoother transition by the government would have avoided the move: ‘When the capacity market was suspended last year, Prospect warned that it had the potential to put jobs at risk; the loss of 300 jobs at Cottam, both direct staff and  contractors, proves the point. The government must not let its current paralysis in the face of Brexit stop it from setting out a clear strategy to deal with the country’s urgent need for new capacity… the loss of generation without any plan for its replacement is not in the public interest.’

EDF Energy says it continues to invest in and to operate low carbon generation, including nuclear and renewables, and to invest in battery storage such as its 49 MW project at the nearby West Burton site. Alongside this is the West Burton B CCGT, the company’s only gas-fired power station, which has three units with a combined output capacity of 1,332 MW.

Photo: EDF Energy

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