The Aberthaw coal-fired generating plant close to St Athan in south Wales, is to close. Owner RWE has announced it will stop generating at the end of March 2020.
The closure of the last coal-powered generating plant in Wales is blamed on market conditions, which have lead to pressure on coal-fired power stations to be closed. Instead, the focus is on generation from less environmentally damaging alternatives. Aberthaw, which produces around 1,560MW of electricity, burns over 5,000 tonnes of coal a day.
Roger Miesen, CEO of RWE Generation, said: “This is a difficult time for everyone at Aberthaw Power Station. However market conditions made this decision necessary.” RWE says it will continue to supply energy via other sources, as the generator continues to reduce its carbon emissions.
“For nearly 50 years the plant has played an invaluable role in helping to secure the energy supplies across the UK electricity system and we are very proud of its flexibility and resilience,” commented Tom Glover, Chief Commercial Officer of RWE Generation.
The plant was opened in 1971, and over the years, the operators have continued to invest, to reduce the levels of harmful emissions coming from the plant’s chimneys. Despite this, there was the threat of European Commission action in 2015, amid allegations that pollution from the plant was above statutory limits. In 2016, Friends of the Earth Cymru claimed it had been emitting 8.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, accounting for around 17% of Welsh greenhouse gas emissions.
The closure of the plant will affect up to 170 employees. There may also be knock-on effects at several open cast coal mines in the south Wales valleys, which currently supply much of the coal burnt in the plant. There is no news, as yet, on what RWE plans for the site following the closure.