Aberthaw Coal Power Plant is a series of two coal-fired power stations situated on the coast of South Wales, near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is actually located on the waterfront of the nearby villages of Gileston and West Aberthaw on Limpert Bay. The current power station on the site, Aberthaw B Power Station, co-fires biomass and as of May 2007, its generating capacity is 1455 megawatts (MW).

Aberthaw Coal Power Plant Operations

Aberthaw Coal Power Plant burns approximately 5000–6000 tonnes of coal a day, contributing 6-7TWHrs per year. The site usually burns two thirds Welsh coal with the remainder being either foreign low-sulphur coal or biomass.

The station takes its entire coal feed stock in by rail, under contract to EWS from the Vale of Glamorgan Line. There are usually around five trains a day.

Until its closure, it was in part supplied with coal from Tower Colliery in Hirwaun. Coal now mainly comes from the Ffos-y-fran opencast reclamation scheme in Merthyr Tydfil, with other sources including: the Aberpergwm drift and opencast mines in the Neath Valley; and the Cwmgwrach Colliery via the Onllwyn Washery. Further stocks are sourced from abroad, primarily Russia, and shipped in via the Ports of Portbury, Avonmouth and Newport Docks.

In response to the government's renewable energy obligation that came into effect in April 2002, the station is currently firing a range of biomass materials to replace some of the coal burned. This is due to Welsh coal being less volatile than other coal and as such producing more sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Flue gas desulfurization

Aberthaw Coal Power Plant B was due for closure, but in June 2005 station owners npower agreed to install new technology to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by installing Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) equipment. This was to reduce sulphur dioxide levels by 90% by 2008, when new European environmental regulations came into place. Construction of the equipment started on 21 June 2006, with a tree-planting ceremony attended by the Welsh Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, Andrew Davies. The desulfurization FGD project is being carried out by a consortium of ALSTOM and AMEC, which will employ 500 workers on site at the peak of construction.

Nuclear proposal

It has recently been proposed that the plant would be a suitable location for a power station using nuclear power based on the existing infrastructure and logistics. However, it is generally held that nuclear stations would only be built in remote areas and on existing nuclear sites. Aberthaw is generally considered too close to Cardiff and is in a conservation area.

Aberthaw Coal Power Station
Country Wales, United Kingdom
Locale Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
Status Operational (Aberthaw B)
Commission date 1966
Decommission date 1995 (Aberthaw A)
Operator(s) RWE npower

Power station information
Primary fuel Coal
Secondary fuel Biomass
Generation units 3 x 500 MW

Power generation information
Installed capacity 1,500 MW