EDF is to shutter its West Burton A power station in September 2022, leaving just one coal-fired power station remaining in the UK.
West Burton A is a 2,000MW station near Retford in Nottinghamshire made up of four units and four turbines that began generation in 1966.
Two of these units will continue to be available over the next 18 months to meet its capacity market commitments only, before decommissioning work will begin. The news follows West Burton A failing to win a T1 capacity market contract this March, a surprise to the energy market that contributed to a record high clearing price of £45/kW.
West Burton A and its workforce has played a “critical role providing power to the UK for 55 years”, said EDF’s managing director for the generation business, Matt Syke.
“With EDF’s power generation strategy firmly focused on nuclear and renewables - and in this key year for UK leadership on climate change - we now believe it is the right time to provide clarity to our employees and all those connected to the site.”
The closure of West Burton A will leave just Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar plant generating power from coal after 2022, following Drax announcing in 2020 that its two remaining coal units will close in March 2021, and SSE's last coal-fired power station, Fiddler’s Ferry, and RWE's Aberthaw B coal-fired power station, both closing in March 2020.
Coal generation is set to be banned from 2024 by the UK government, a deadline brought forward by a year in 2020 as the pace of its decline increased.
Last year was a record breaker for the coal-phase out in the UK, with coal staying off the grid for more than two months during the second quarter of the year. In 2009, coal generated 20% of the nation’s electricity, while in 2020 this was down to just 1.8% .
EDF is working with three unions – GMB, Prospect and Unite – now to prepare West Burton A’s 170 staff members, helping to identify ways to extend their careers.
The full time Union officers said the announcement of the closure brings “welcome certainty” to the workforce.
“With government policy to close all UK coal generation by 2024 we knew it had a limited future so we have been working alongside EDF to understand the implications for West Burton A and to prepare colleagues for the future. Knowing the date of closure allows people to make plans. Enabling a ‘Just Transition’ away from coal generation is very important for the Unions.”