UK trade unions ask for government meeting to discuss Eggborough

By Erin Voegele | January 22, 2014

Trade unions in the U.K. are asking to meet with government officials to discuss the omission of the Eggborough Power Station from a list of renewable energy projects that are likely to receive subsidies. According to the GMB and Unite engineering construction trade unions, the closure of the 2,000- megawatt (MW) Eggborough Power Station would result in the loss of 850 jobs. Additional supply chain jobs would also be lost.

Late last year, the DECC announced the government had sent draft investment contracts to 16 renewable energy projects that progressed to the next stage of the Final Investment Decision Enabling for Renewables process. In mid-December, it cut that list to 10 projects that were identified as “provisionally affordable” under budget caps announced earlier in the month. The Eggborough facility was among the initial 16 projects, but was dropped from the list of provisionally affordable projects. As such, the coal-fired plant’s planned conversion to biomass is unlikely to move forward. Without the biomass conversion, the plant is expected to cease operations by 2015.

 “This power station has been left high and dry because the carbon capture project at neighboring Drax power station is more favorable to the Government’s failing energy policy,” said Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for engineering construction. “Eight-hundred-and-fifty in house workers will go, as well as thousands in the supply chain. In addition a £60m investment at Immingham Docks, and another one at Teesport will be shelved. These port facilities would have handled the biomass fuel imports. The rail networks to handle the movement of the fuel from the docks to the power station from both ports will also be shelved.”

Whitehurst went on to note that the imminent closure of the plant is another example of failing U.K. energy policy. “This power station is a viable generation facility if converted to biomass,” he said. “There are foreign investors interested, but without the biomass subsidies the investment will not happen.”

 The biomass conversion was originally scheduled to begin on Jan. 6. In a letter the DECC, the trade unions noted the conversion would have been one of the largest construction projects to commence in the U.K. during the first quarter of the year. The facility recently celebrated the generation of its one-millionth hour of power.