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Updated Coal Power Capacity

February 9, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


Following yesterday’s announcement that the Rugeley coal fired power station will close this year, I have updated the current capacity situation for coal power.



  Capacity MW MW to close
in 2016
Ratcliffe 2000    
Cottam 2008    
West Burton 2012    
Eggborough 1960 1960  
Rugeley 1006 1006  
Lynemouth 420   Conv to bio
Aberthaw 1586    
Longannett 2260 2260  
Drax 3870   50% to bio
Fiddlers Ferry 1960 1500  
Ferrybridge 980 980  
Kilroot 520    
TOTAL 20582 7703  



By the end of this year, therefore, we will be left with less than 13GW.



One of the problems facing both coal power and CCGT is the cost of intermittency. According to official DECC statistics, capacity loading for conventional thermal power plant dropped from 55% in 2010 to 42% in 2014, as subsidised renewables are given preferential access to the market.

Coal has faced particular problems in the last year as gas prices fell, along with the impact of the carbon tax.

  1. Peter Langdon permalink
    February 9, 2016 1:06 pm

    With the Institution of Mechanical Engineers predicting a 55% shortfall in UK energy production in just a few years time due to the delays in the construction of new nuclear power stations, the inability, it seems, to drill even the first fracking well or build new gas powered generating plant, closing vital coal fired power stations and worn out nuclear power stations with nothing to replace them and instead relying on unreliable wind and solar renewables of totally inadequate capacity and causing UK electricity to be the most expensive in the Western world, I am beginning to believe the DECC is living in cloud cuckoo land!

    • February 9, 2016 2:56 pm

      I think most people commenting here know that DECC has been in cloud cuckoo land since at least 1997 when Blair came to power, and had a dozen energy minister in 13 years. The three since Miliband have been no better. Gennies all round.

    • J Martin permalink
      February 10, 2016 9:21 pm

      Peter, some more info on that would be interesting. Are they saying we might only be able to generate half our electricity needs in a few years ? How many years is a few ?

  2. February 9, 2016 1:07 pm

    Paul, here’s my version of same. Kilroot is in NI and should not be counted in dispatchable UK supply since NG don’t include NI in their demand summaries. 25% Fidddler’s Ferry goes to capacity reserve (I have that as separate category). And I have 50% of Drax now under biomass. Lynemouth is currently closed and as you point out will re-open as biomass. This biomass experiment will end in tears once the Yanks see what is happening to their forests.

    Trying to write a post on this, but not easy since the data are changing daily.

  3. johnmarshall permalink
    February 9, 2016 1:33 pm

    Rugeley was built next to a coal mine that was supposed to supply 1million tons of coal direct to the plant. It never did.

    • February 9, 2016 8:11 pm

      Doesn’t matter. Where I live in Wyoming there was a coal mine that supplied coal to the power plant and they closed the mine and brought in coal from a hundred miles away. They put in a wind plant. Wind has great subsidies making Duke energy lots of money and every year they argue and get their property taxes lowered because the wind plant “doesn’t make as much money as we though it would”. So there’s really no relevance to cost, or reality, in any of this. When you get your money for free, you can fritter away all you like and perform as poorly as you want. The beauty of free money.

  4. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 9, 2016 1:44 pm

    According to BMreports (see last chart) we now have 16,560MW of operational coal, which will fall to 6,962MW at the low point (week 28) midsummer as maintenance bites, rising to 11,885MW by week 6 next year to meet what is often the coldest time of year. It’s not clear whether this accounts for the Rugeley closure yet.

  5. February 9, 2016 3:11 pm

    While Rome burns, I note that DECC has issued a very important report about equality in the DECC workforce. “DECC workforce” is definitely an oxymoron. The main equality within DECC is that of stupidity.

  6. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    February 9, 2016 3:36 pm

    With the looney immigration and general population expanding the base load rises? I think the load element increasing most is electricity… gotta be! So crippling the critical internal generators makes sense? And the reliance on interconnectors and wind/solar is safe?

    No external or imported enemy required is there!

  7. Russ Wood permalink
    February 9, 2016 4:23 pm

    And down in South Africa, which depends upon coal and ONE nuclear power station, a chunk of the country’s power went out TWO YEARS AGO, due to incompetence in operation. It seems that the whole WORLD is going batty (probably driven by the CAGW scam). A leaked copy of the report on the power station is at

    • Douglas Brodie permalink
      February 9, 2016 5:35 pm

      There’s no doubt about it that the whole world is going batty over alleged man-made global warming. We have the President of the USA pedalling the debunked propaganda fiction that 97% (he once even ups it to 99.5%) of scientists believe in man-made climate change. We have UN head Ban Ki-moon suggesting that man-made global warming is an “existential threat” to the world. All without a shred of empirical evidence.

      Dr Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy Corbyn) provides a breath of common sense here on YouTube where he denounces the UN IPCC’s climate change “con” in no uncertain terms:

    • February 9, 2016 8:14 pm

      The whole world is going batty. Global warming is just one small piece.

  8. RogerJC permalink
    February 9, 2016 7:36 pm

    Interesting report – I worked on the original tender for these boilers for one of the losing boiler makers. Because the various international boiler makers all have their own unique designs it would be almost impossible for anyone, except the original supplier, to utilise the existing support structure, peripherals and auxiliary plant without major and expensive modifications and/or replacement. Of course, once an order for a boiler is placed it will be at least another four years before it is generating electricity.

  9. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 9, 2016 7:43 pm

    A footnote:

    The closure of Rugeley knocks out 1.6 million tonnes of rail freight p.a. on the WCML, further weakening the case for HS2.

  10. February 9, 2016 8:17 pm

    If one truly wants this to stop, shut down all the plants NOW. Demonstrate most emphatically what the consequence of ditching electrical generation is. Don’t let it go slowly—death from a thousand cuts. Just rip off the bandaids, amputate a leg if necessary to save the patient and fight this. Of course, I don’t expect anyone to actually do this—that’s why death from a thousand cuts wins. You die talking yourself into believing that you can’t die.

  11. Graeme No.3 permalink
    February 9, 2016 9:54 pm

    To avoid electricity blackouts in the UK next winter either
    install a generator or
    take 4 months holiday in NZ or Australia (Tasmania at the start to avoid heat shock).

    • AndyG55 permalink
      February 10, 2016 11:34 am

      Wouldn’t go to Tassie, they will have no electricity down there shortly !!
      Unless, of course, you want a taste of what the UK is heading for.

      The hydro dams are nearly empty, and the Basslink from Victoria’s brown coal electricity is down and will be for several more weeks.

      They have turn the Bell Bay gas-fired station back on.(decommissioned in 2009) and there are a couple of small plants that could be pushed into use, and some big gen-sets on the way.

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