EDF Energy is to close the Cottam coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire at the end of September due to “challenging market conditions”.
The company said it will continue to operate the nearby West Burton A coal plant until at least September 2021 when its existing capacity market agreements come to an end. Both power stations have a capacity of 2GW.
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 years.
“There has been an aspiration to move away from coal for a long time now and we have prepared thoroughly for the closure.”
He continued: “We are conscious of the need to support a just transition to a low-carbon energy system. Our ambition is to close the station safely and responsibly by managing people and the environment properly and continuing to be a good neighbour.”
There are currently 158 people directly employed by EDF Energy at Cottam, of which 22 will be transferred to alternative roles in the company within the new few months.
Unite national officer for energy Peter McIntosh, said: “The announcement of this closure has been on the cards for the last 12 months. It is not unexpected, but it is still a sad day for the workers and their families as this plant has been generating for more than 50 years.
“Unite’s role will be to continue to constructively engage with the EDF management about the redeployment of the more than 150 employees affected. We will aim to match the skills and aspirations of the Cottam workers with opportunities for redeployment within the EDF family.”
Cottam secured a three-year refurbishment agreement in the first capacity market auction in 2014. The contract, which initially ran from October 2018 to September 2021, was later reduced to a one-year agreement after EDF Energy decided not to proceed with the upgrade.
The suspension of the capacity market in November, including all auctions and payments, has so far prevented the power station from securing a further contract for the coming winter. The government is planning to hold a T-1 auction over the summer to replace the one which was scheduled for early 2019.
A number of coal plants have been shut down in recent years, including most recently the Eggborough power station in Yorkshire. The government has committed to phasing out all unabated coal generation by 2025.
Commenting on EDF’s decision, Client Earth energy lawyer Sam Bright, said: “The market is closing in on coal plants in the UK, as expected. This is largely thanks to the pioneering carbon price floor and the plummeting costs of renewable energy.
“But where is the UK’s coal phase-out law? BEIS committed a year ago to introduce a law to guarantee a coal exit by 2025 – and yet Claire Perry seemed to row back in December, saying legislation would be a last resort.
“This incoherent policymaking sends confusing signals. As a leader of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, we need clarity and ambition from the UK.”