Ironbridge Coal Power Plant

The Ironbridge or Buildwas coal power plant refers to a series of two coal-fired power stations which have occupied a site on the banks of the River Severn at Buildwas in Shropshire, England. The current Ironbridge B power palnt is operated by E.ON UK. The station stands near the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, where the Industrial Revolution began.


Project architect Alan Clark worked closely with landscape architect Kenneth Booth, in order to ensure that the station merged as seamlessly as possible into its natural surroundings. In this respect, the power station is unique amongst British coal-fired stations. When viewed from Ironbridge, the surroundings of the station are hidden by wooded hills. The cooling towers were deliberately constructed using concrete to which a red pigment had been added, to blend with the colour of the local soil. This had cost £11,000 in the 1960s. The towers cannot be seen at all from the world famous landmark, The Iron Bridge. The station's single 205 m (673 ft) high chimney is fifth tallest chimney in the UK. It is the tallest structure in Shropshire, as well as being taller than Blackpool Tower and London's BT Tower.

The station's turbine hall is decoratively clad in chipped granite faced concrete panels, aluminium sheeting, and glazing. The turbine hall obscures the rather more functional metal clad boiler house from view. A free-standing administration block continues the theme of concrete panelling, albeit with extensive use of large floor to ceiling windows. Period fittings within the administration block include a board room, containing murals that reference the industries of the Ironbridge Gorge, and a grand entrance hall with a metallic mural.

So impressive were the measures taken to ensure that the power station was an asset to the gorge and not an eyesore, that it was short listed for a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors/The Times conservation award in 1973.


The Ironbridge coal power plant generates electricity using two 500 MW generating sets. The turbines' blades are 1 m (3 ft 3 in) long each and when the turbines spin at their usual fixed speed of 3,000 rpm, the outermost tip of the last row of blades travel at approximately 2,000 km/h. The station uses low NOx burners and electrostatic precipitators to reduce its environmental impact. The majority of the station's ash waste is sold to the construction industry.

Coal supplies

Until recently (June 2010) approximately 3000 - 6000 tonnes of coal was delivered to the power station every day, via a branch line railway through Madeley, Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale, crossing the River Severn via, the Grade 2 Listed Albert Edward Bridge. The railway branch joins the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line at Madeley Junction. The coal is delivered variously by DBS, Freightliner and Fastline. After the trains are emptied, they are usually stabled at Warrington Arpley Yard. Scheduled passenger services on the branch line were stopped in the 1960s, and so the line is kept open primarily for the transportation of coal to the power station. However, the Telford Steam Railway has aspirations to take over the now unused western-most track of the former double-track railway between the power station and Lightmoor Junction as part of their southern extension from Horsehay through Doseley.

A steam locomotive hauled special passenger train, organised by railtour company 'Vintage Trains', visited the branch line on 3 November 2007. The tour was entitled Pannier to Ironbridge, and was hauled by former Great Western Railway 0-6-0 Pannier tank No. 9466, which ran a return trip between Tyseley, near Birmingham, and Ironbridge.

Ironbridge today

In 1990 the CEGB was split into different companies for privatisation, and Ironbridge Power Station went through a number of ownership transfers before eventually being owned by Powergen. In 2001 Powergen was taken over by E.ON, an energy company based in Germany.

The station is currently the only major generator of electricity in Shropshire. The plant consumes about 1.2 million tonnes of coal and 20,000 tonnes of oil each year, and generated 2,990 GWh of electricity in 2004.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth claim that as of 2006, the station is the second worst polluting power station in the United Kingdom per megawatt output. Ironbridge has been opted out of the Large Combustion Plants Directive, which means the station will only be allowed to operate for up to 20,000 hours after 1 January 2008, and must close by 31 December 2015.

Ironbridge Coal Power Plant
Country England, United Kingdom
Locale Shropshire, West Midlands
Status Operational
Construction began 1929
Commission date A station: 1932
B station: 1969
Decommission date A station: 1981
  • West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority (1932-1948)
  • British Electricity Authority (1948-1954)
  • Central Electricity Authority (1954-1957)
  • Central Electricity Generating Board (1957-1990)
  • Powergen (1990-2001)
  • E.ON UK (2001-present)

Power station information
Primary fuel Coal

Power generation information
Installed capacity A station: 200 MW
B station: 1,000 MW

Ekibastuz GRES-2 Coal Power Plant

The Ekibastuz GRES-2 Coal Power Plant is a coal-fueled power generating station in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan. GRES-2, built in 1987, has installed capacity of 1,000 MWe and has the world's tallest flue gas stack at 419.7 metres (1,377 ft) high. The chimney is about 38 metres (125 ft) taller than the Inco Superstack in Sudbury, Canada. Locals refer to it as "the Cigarette Lighter". This chimney is the tallest chimney ever built.

The Ekibastuz GRES-2 Coal Power Plant is the start of the Powerline Ekibastuz–Kokshetau and uses a transmission voltage of 1,150 kV, the highest transmission voltage in the world. The extension of this line to Elektrostal in Russia is also designed for 1,150 kV, but it currently operates at only 400 kV. About 3/4 of the energy produced by GRES-2 is exported to Russia.

50% of GRES-2 shares are owned by Inter RAO UES, and 50% by Kazakhstan's government.

The planned capacity of 4,000 MWe is to be provided by eight equal units, 500 MWe each.

Unit 1 was launched into service in December, 1990.
Unit 2 was launched into service in December, 1993.
Construction of Unit 3 was started 1990 but later stopped.

2006 fire

On 30 May 2006, the chimney of the GRES-2 Power Station caught fire as flames and smoke could be seen pouring out of the top of the building. There were no reports of injuries and there was no word on the cause of the blaze. Firemen at the scene said all those inside the building had been evacuated.

Tilbury Coal Power Plant

Tilbury Coal Power Plant refers to a series of two power stations, in Essex, England. The first station on the site, Tilbury A Power Station, was oil-fired and opened in 1956 with a generating capacity of 360 megawatts (MW). The A station was mothballed in 1981, by which time it had been replaced by Tilbury B Power Station. Opened in 1967, the B station fires coal, as well as co-firing oil and biomass. It has a generating capacity of 1,428 MW, enough electricity to meet the needs of 1.4 million people, equivalent to 80% of the population of Essex. The stations are both situated on a site on the north bank of the River Thames, on the outskirts of Tilbury.

The Tilbury Coal Power Plant B contains four generating units, one of which has been decommissioned since the stations opening and is now redundant, only being used as spare parts for maintenance of the remaining 3 generating units, all 4 units were available before this with a combined capacity of 1428 MW, enough power for 1.4 million people, approximately 80% of the population of Essex. Cooling water is drawn from the Thames. Fuel is delivered by ship to dedicated unloading jetties. The station connects to the National Grid at the nearby 275 kV substation.

In early 2007, npower announced plans to replace the current B station with a 1,600 MW 'cleaner' coal-fired power station. The station would cost £1 billion and could be operational by 2014. The plans have been supported by the Port of London Authority.


2008 boiler incident

On 1 July 2008, a man servicing an offline boiler at the station fell 20 ft (6.1 m) from scaffolding into the boiler. Crews used an internal staircase in the boiler to rescue the man, and he was taken to safety by 11am.

2009 fire

A fire broke out at the power station on 29 July 2009. The fire broke out shortly after 3:00pm, with the failure of one of the station's high pressure turbine units. Workers were evacuated immediately, and the fire was reported to be under control by 5:30pm. There were no casualties.
Tilbury Coal Power Plant
Country England
Locale Tilbury
Status Operating
Commission date A station: 1956
B station: 1967
Decommission date A station: 1981
Owner(s) Central Electricity Generating Board
National Power

Power station information
Primary fuel Coal
Secondary fuel Oil
Tertiary fuel Biomass

Power generation information
Installed capacity A station: 360 MW
B station: 1,428 MW

Grootvlei Coal Power Plant

Grootvlei Coal Power Plant is coal power plant located in Balfour, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The first of Grootvlei's six units was commissioned in 1969. In 1989 three units were mothballed and in 1990 the other three followed. Due to the power crisis being experienced in South Africa, Eskom decided to return the station to service. By 2008 two of Grootvlei's units were back online, providing 585MW to the national grid.

Grootvlei's units 5 and 6 were the first test facilities for dry cooling in South Africa. Unit 6 has an indirect dry cooling system.

The Grootvlei Coal Power Plant consists of six 200MW units for a total installed capacity of 1,200MW. Turbine Maximum Continuous Rating is 32.90%.

Grootvlei Coal Power Plant
Country South Africa
Locale Mpumalanga
Commission date 1969
Owner(s) Eskom

Power station information
Primary fuel Coal
Generation units 6

Power generation information
Installed capacity 1,200 Megawatt

Cockenzie Coal Power Plant

Cockenzie Coal Power Plant is a coal-fired power station in East Lothian, Scotland, capable of co-firing biomass. It is situated on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, near the town of Cockenzie and Port Seton, 8 mi (13 km) east of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The Cockenzie Coal Power Plant has dominated the local coastline with its distinctive twin chimneys, since it opened in 1967. Initially operated by the nationalised South of Scotland Electricity Board, it has been operated by Scottish Power since the privatisation of the industry in 1991. In 2005 a WWF report named Cockenzie as the UK's least carbon-efficient power station, in terms of carbon dioxide released per unit of energy generated. The 1,200 megawatt power station is set to close by 2016, but there are plans to replace the current station with a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station.

Since 1991, the Cockenzie Coal Power Plant has been owned by the privatised Scottish Power utility group. It recently surpassed its originally intended lifespan. It is now run as a 'marginal station', guaranteeing seasonal and peak supply and non-availability of other power stations. For this reason considerable investment has been made to improve start-up times to maximise generating opportunities in the deregulated electricity generation market. Since 2001, the station has exported electricity to Northern Ireland via an undersea power link.

CCGT replacement

The Cockenzie Coal Power Plant must close by 31 December 2015, so Scottish Power are currently considering replacing it with a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station. If the station is built, it will require a 17 km (11 mi) gas pipeline from East Fortune, to supply it with fuel.

Coal transportation

Coal was originally supplied to the station directly from the deep mines of the neighbouring Lothian coalfield, but these have since been exhausted or closed. Subsequently coal has been supplied from open cast mines in the Lothians, Fife, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.

The power station was the first to use the new "merry-go-round" system of coal deliveries by rail. This system uses hopper wagons which carry around 914 tonnes of coal each. This coal is delivered to the station's coal store, which has the capacity to hold up to 900,000 tonnes of coal. The coal store is situated on the opposite side of B1348 road between Prestonpans and Cockenzie and Port Seton, to the rest of the station. Coal is transported from the coal store to the station's boiler house by a conveyor belt. It is then weighed, sampled and screened, before being pulverised in a pulverising mill. It is then blasted into the station's furnaces with preheated air, to heat the station's boilers.

Water use

The water used in the station's boilers is taken from the local water supply, but is purified in the station's water treatment plant. In the boilers, the water is super heated to a temperature of 556 °C, before it is piped to the station's turbogenerators. It hits the turbine blades, causing the turbine shaft to rotate at 3,000 rmp. This is connected to a generator, which generates electricity at 17 kilovolt (kV). The steam is reheated and then fed to intermediate and low pressure turbines.

After use, the steam is then condensed back into water, using a cooling medium; water from the Firth of Forth. 30 million gallons of water are used for cooling purposes every hour. It is then discharged back into the Firth of Forth.

Ash use and removal

The burning of coal in power stations generates a lot of ash and dust. The station's electrostatic precipitators capture fly ash from the flue gases, preventing them from entering the atmosphere. Bottom ash is also produced by the station. Ash from the station is sold through the ScotAsh company, a joint venture between Scottish Power and Blue Circle. It is used in the construcion industry and in products such as grout and cement. Any remaining ash is piped to the large lagoons in the nearby town of Musselburgh, where it is capped and planted, and used as a nature reserve.

Electricity distribution

The electricity is initially generated at 17 kV. This is stepped up via a transformer to 275 kV for distribution on the National Grid. The electricity is not just distributed to Scotland, but England too, which it is connected to via a double circuit overhead line, operating at 275 kV and 400 kV, to Stella near Newcastle upon Tyne.


The Cockenzie Coal Power Plant occupies a 24 hectare site. It generates electricity using four 300 megawatt (MW) generating units, for a peak supply of 1200 MW.

Cockenzie Coal Power Plant
Country Scotland
Locale Cockenzie
Status Operational
Commission date 1967
Operator(s) South of Scotland Electricity Board
Scottish Power

Power station information
Primary fuel Coal
Secondary fuel Biomass

Power generation information
Installed capacity 1,200 MW

Coal Creek Power Plant

Coal Creek Power Plant is the largest power plant in the U.S. state of North Dakota. Located at near the Missouri River between Underwood, North Dakota and Washburn, North Dakota, it is the largest lignite-fired electricity plant in North Dakota. Its two generators are each rated at 605 megawatts (Unit 1 went in service in 1979, Unit 2 came online in 1980), with a peak total production of nearly 1.2 gigawatts.

The station is owned by Great River Energy, an alliance of Minnesota rural electric cooperatives, and trasmits its power to Minnesota over a 700 kilometres (430 mi) HVDC transmission line which is operated at +/- 400 kV. The line and plant were completed and put in service by 1981.

The Coal Creek Power Plant, part of the larger CU Project, was the subject of controversy.

The boiler building of Coal Creek Station is 89.91 metres high. Hereby the boiler is fixed to the roof. The chimney of Coal Creek Station is 198.12 metres tall.

Coal Creek Station is the third-largest producer of coal ash in the country, generating over four million pounds of surface waste stored onsite each year.

Some of the waste heat generated by the coal combustion is utilized by the nearby Blue Flint Ethanol plant.