New Old-fashioned Power

August 26, 2009

A new old-fashioned coal-fired power station that would waste more than 50% of the energy contained in its fossil fuel feedstock is proposed for North Ayrshire.

Ayrshire Powergrab Limited is a new company that has been formed by Manchester-based Shpeel and Denmark-based Ding Dong to develop plans for a new energy-wasting power station at Hunterston that will add unnecessary spare capacity to Scotland’s already over-centralised power sector.

Planning permission for the proposed development seems virtually guaranteed due to its late inclusion in the Scottish Ministers’ National Planning Framework document as one of fourteen special status “National Developments”.

Powergrab claims that up to 1500 temporary engineering and construction jobs will be created during the estimated four years it will take to build the facility and that a further 150 workers will be required during the estimated forty or so years of the plant’s operation. The company has conceded that for every person directly employed, only an additional one or two jobs could be supported in the region through providing services to the plant.

Contrary to Ding Dong’s Shpeel, Scotland does not face an electricity supply gap within the next decade. Despite the closure of capacity at Hunterston B and Cockenzie, firm generating capacity will remain comfortably above peak demand during this period. Indeed, Scotland is likely to remain a net exporter of electricity throughout the 2010’s and beyond.

Shpeel and Ding Dong are proposing a facility fuelled largely by imported coal that will use the minimum carbon capture and storage technology possible within UK legislation.  Revenues from this surplus electricity will benefit first and foremost Shpeel’s shareholders and the Danish government who are majority owners of Ding Dong.

As the company points out, the port-side location conveniently provides options for transporting the any carbon dioxide (CO2) that the company is forced to capture. Less conveniently, however, it would seem that the pipeline, the specialised ships and offshore storage sites they mention in this connection have yet to reach the drawing board stage let alone found financial backers.