Greenpeace shuts down coal fired power station

Posted by bex — 8 October 2007 at 6:32am - Comments

On the conveyor belt

See all Kingsnorth updates.


We've taken over Kingsnorth coal fired power station in Kent to send a message to Gordon Brown: don't bottle it on climate change by giving the green light to the first new coal plant in the UK for over 30 years.

Just after 5am this morning, 50 Greenpeace volunteers took over the plant. One group immobilised the huge conveyor belts carrying coal into the plant then chained themselves to the machinery. As I write, a second group is climbing a 200 metre ladder up the chimney, with supplies to hold it for several days and force it off the National Grid.

Why are we there?

Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels; it just isn’t fit for purpose in the 21st century. No new coal fired power station has been built in the UK in over 30 years but now Gordon Brown may be giving the green light to a new coal rush.

Below the chimneyIn December last year, E.ON applied to build a new coal plant that would emit as much carbon dioxide as the world’s 24 lowest emitting countries combined. Worse, it could keep pumping out emissions for another 50 years. And it will only be 45 per cent efficient, in an age when power stations can reach 95 per cent efficiency. E.ON, the German group behind the plan for the new coal plant, is Britain’s single biggest greenhouse gas polluter.

Brown’s repeatedly been asked to veto the plans; he’s refused. In fact, his government has convened a coal forum to “bring forward ways of strengthening the industry, and working to ensure that the UK has the right framework to secure the long-term future of coal-fired generation.”

There’s a huge public call to say no to new coal. Over 13,000 of our supporters have written to the local council, - Medway, who can also block the proposal - asking them to turn down the application (thank you!). Councillors are due to give a decision later this month, at which point the proposal will land on Brown’s desk.

“I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power stations.”
Al Gore, 2007
We don't need more outdated, inefficient coal fired power plants. We need an energy system that can meet the demands of the 21st century: renewables, energy efficiency and combined heat and power (CHP) on an unprecedented scale: decentralised energy. This is Brown's litmus test on climate change.

If he gives E.ON the go-ahead, he’ll be:

• ushering in a new coal rush
• propping up the inefficient, centralised energy generation system that’s responsible for two thirds of all the energy within fossil fuels being wasted – potentially for another 50 years
• blowing the UK’s chances of meeting the necessary 80 per cent emissions reductions by 2050.

Brown’s inherited an energy policy in disarray. Now he has a historic opportunity. He can decide whether to follow Blair’s confused and fragmented approach to energy generation, or he can give this country what it needs: a coherent energy framework that puts Britain at the vanguard of the energy revolution and allows us to meet our commitment to produce 20 per cent of all energy from renewables by 2020.

Keep an eye on the blog for the latest updates - and there'll be updates from the scene on Moblog, Flickr and Twitter. You can also keep up with what’s going on by becoming our friend on Facebook.

Take action

The last coal fired power station to be built in the UK was in 1974. Let’s keep it that way. Write to Gordon Brown now.

"...only 45% efficient..."

For a coal-fired power station that's fantastic news. Sure 100% efficiency would be nice but it's an engineering pipe-dream.

Britain needs new high output power stations to replace our aging nuclear facilities. Local electricity production is great for domestic usage but simply can't generate the Watts need to run industry and infra-structure.
You can't run an steel recycling mill on solar power.
You can't rely on wind power to supply our hospitals with constant electricity.

So, GreenPeace, time to grow up, look at the BIG picture and realise that electricity generation is essential to modern life.

Absolutely, electricity generation is essential to modern life - and getting a genuinely clean and efficient energy system (power and heat) has never been more important. Which is why we're proposing a total revolution of the energy system - including efficiency, renewables and combined heat and power (CHP).

On CHP by the way, 100% efficiency may be a pipe dream but plants are reaching up to 95% (see Avedore).

When we talk about CHP, we're talking about two kinds: community heating and industrial CHP (ie providing heat, steam and power for industrial processes). Immingham CHP plant, supplying two refineries in Humberside, is about to expand to reach the same electricity generating capacity as Sizewell B. On a relatively small number of industrial sites in the UK, there's enough CHP potential to provide the same electricity generating capacity as the whole of the proposed new generation of nuclear reactors combined.

That's without efficiency measures (every year we throw away eight times the amount of energy generated by all of the UK's nuclear power stations combined) and largescale renewables, like offshore wind, wave and tidal.

The government's own figures suggest that more than a quarter of today's electricity consumption could be provided by wind power by 2025, and wave and tidal power could provide another 12.5 per cent - economically and practically - by 2025. (That's more than double what nuclear can provide - some time after 2024.)

There's lots more info on our vision for the energy future here.

Bex
gpuk

Congrats on the action. Wish i could have been there.
We need a clean and effective solution to climate change, not a re-hash of old, dirty technlology.

You are bashing on about CHP being so efficient (which it is) yet why have you ignored my posting on your blog which linked you to a press release by E-ON (September 3rd)saying they were looking to make Kingsnorth a CHP station to supply heating to the nearby industrial sites and, if my memory serves me well, 50,000 new homes. Surely your time would be better spent talking to E-On and holding them to their promise?
E.ON UK Press Releases
03 September 2007 12:03
E.ON UK explores greener community heating options for Kent
E.ON UK could be behind one of the first large scale community heating schemes in the UK, with tens of thousands of Kent homes potentially being heated by excess steam from its proposed cleaner coal development.
The company kicked off an initial feasibility study to examine the potential for a district heating project as part of its proposed Kingsnorth development earlier this year, and has now joined forces with local development agencies to take the project forward.

Dr Paul Golby, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: "This is yet another example of how we can change the way that we generate, distribute and use energy in the UK.

"And, while it's still early days, our investigations have shown that there is a real opportunity for community heating, particularly given the large residential and commercial developments being undertaken in the next decade as part of projects such as Thames Gateway and Medway Renaissance.

"Technically, we've already built in provision for combined heat and power or district heating in our designs for the new plant and our studies show that we could potentially provide heat to up to 100,000 homes plus associated commercial and public service buildings."

A community heating scheme would remove the need for gas-fired boilers in new homes or businesses, with steam being taken from E.ON's proposed coal units to heat water in a network that would then be piped direct to people's homes to provide heating.

There are currently around 50,000 new homes on the drawing board in Kent. District heating on these properties alone would mean a saving of approximately 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to taking around 20,000 cars off the UK's roads.

Agencies involved in the project are Medway Council, SEEDA, Thames Gateway, Kent Thameside and Medway Renaissance, alongside other key stakeholders including DEFRA and the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA).

"There are clearly a number of issues that need to be resolved before we could give this project the green light," said Dr Golby.

"Some of them are technical, others non-site specific relating to planning, regulation, markets and policy, but we're keen to explore any option out there in terms of finding additional benefits to our new projects.

"The next step now is to push forward with a more detailed feasibility study to identify a number of considerations that could make this idea a reality."

E.ON is already a market leader in community heating in continental Europe with around 50 district heating schemes in place across Sweden and Denmark.

And by the way - I don't work for E-ON I am a Greenpeace activist.

Hiya

I did reply to to your comment a couple of weeks ago here - although it was late, sorry.

I'll post it again here in full:

OK (and sorry for the delay on this):

So far all E.ON have done is to announce that they're launching a feasibility study into CHP - something they should have done long before now as a matter of course. Even now there's no guarantee they'll actually use heat capture. From their press release they reckon they could heat 50-100,000 homes with such a scheme. That may sound a lot but, compared with the scale of Kingsnorth, it falls well short of what's needed to make the plant as efficient as it should be or to reduce the carbon intensity to an acceptable level.

The point is really, the overall efficiency of the plant: just how much energy (heat+electricity) do you get out of it for the CO2 emissions. There's a strong case for setting a bar, a minimum carbon intensity standard, below which any new fossil fuel plant would be ruled out. A sensible place to put this might be at the same level as a good quality gas-fuelled CHP plant; any plant with more CO2 emissions per unit of useful energy produced than this would be ruled out. A CHP plant running purely on coal certainly wouldn't meet this standard. And one the size of Kingsnorth and only supplying 100,000 homes would be way, way off. But a state of the art CHP plant, like those in Denmark, running on a mixture of fuels that included some coal along with a significant amount of sustainable biofuels might well meet the standard.

So, basically: We support super-efficient, multi-fuel CHP as the most efficient, flexible form of generating energy with the most scope for getting even cleaner in the future (by increasing the amount of cleaner fuels it uses as they become available). We certainly wouldn't support a CHP plant run purely on coal as the emissions would still be much too high. But, depending on the overall efficiency, we might accept that coal could be used as a part of the mix going into a multi-fuel CHP plant.

That kind of plant on the Kingsnorth site might have to be smaller than the current E.ON proposal because you need enough customers for the heat in order to make it super efficient. But that’s the point: this location isn’t the only place in the UK that new power plants can be built! The size and location of power plants should be chosen to allow the most efficient, state of the art technology to be used in every case – not just as an add on or an afterthought. In the coming years we have to rebuild our energy system whether we like it or not – the money will get spent one way or the other. So the decision we have to make is what we spend that money on: whether to have the same inefficient, dirty, centralised system all over again – and get locked into it for another 50 years, or whether to start building a more flexible, super-efficient and low carbon decentralised energy system now. E.ON’s proposals, even with their scoping study, push us firmly down the wrong path.

Bex
gpuk

I can't believe that Gordon Brown is allowing more coal fired power plants. He knows about the growing amount of pollution, and what it is doing to our beautiful world. I say well done to Greenpeace! If only everyone could think like that, our world wouldn't be in the state is in now.

I'm with you on that one...

Thanks Kotu,

Bex
gpuk

my parents live close to a proposed power station how close can it be built to someones home the reason i ask is to give us grounds to appeal to planning we lived next to coal dumps for the old power station for 20 years and no all to well the impact on the environment

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/nomorecoal/

JetG. rescue diver extraordinaire.

"...only 45% efficient..." For a coal-fired power station that's fantastic news. Sure 100% efficiency would be nice but it's an engineering pipe-dream. Britain needs new high output power stations to replace our aging nuclear facilities. Local electricity production is great for domestic usage but simply can't generate the Watts need to run industry and infra-structure. You can't run an steel recycling mill on solar power. You can't rely on wind power to supply our hospitals with constant electricity. So, GreenPeace, time to grow up, look at the BIG picture and realise that electricity generation is essential to modern life.

Absolutely, electricity generation is essential to modern life - and getting a genuinely clean and efficient energy system (power and heat) has never been more important. Which is why we're proposing a total revolution of the energy system - including efficiency, renewables and combined heat and power (CHP). On CHP by the way, 100% efficiency may be a pipe dream but plants are reaching up to 95% (see Avedore). When we talk about CHP, we're talking about two kinds: community heating and industrial CHP (ie providing heat, steam and power for industrial processes). Immingham CHP plant, supplying two refineries in Humberside, is about to expand to reach the same electricity generating capacity as Sizewell B. On a relatively small number of industrial sites in the UK, there's enough CHP potential to provide the same electricity generating capacity as the whole of the proposed new generation of nuclear reactors combined. That's without efficiency measures (every year we throw away eight times the amount of energy generated by all of the UK's nuclear power stations combined) and largescale renewables, like offshore wind, wave and tidal. The government's own figures suggest that more than a quarter of today's electricity consumption could be provided by wind power by 2025, and wave and tidal power could provide another 12.5 per cent - economically and practically - by 2025. (That's more than double what nuclear can provide - some time after 2024.) There's lots more info on our vision for the energy future here. Bex gpuk

Congrats on the action. Wish i could have been there. We need a clean and effective solution to climate change, not a re-hash of old, dirty technlology.

You are bashing on about CHP being so efficient (which it is) yet why have you ignored my posting on your blog which linked you to a press release by E-ON (September 3rd)saying they were looking to make Kingsnorth a CHP station to supply heating to the nearby industrial sites and, if my memory serves me well, 50,000 new homes. Surely your time would be better spent talking to E-On and holding them to their promise? E.ON UK Press Releases 03 September 2007 12:03 E.ON UK explores greener community heating options for Kent E.ON UK could be behind one of the first large scale community heating schemes in the UK, with tens of thousands of Kent homes potentially being heated by excess steam from its proposed cleaner coal development. The company kicked off an initial feasibility study to examine the potential for a district heating project as part of its proposed Kingsnorth development earlier this year, and has now joined forces with local development agencies to take the project forward. Dr Paul Golby, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: "This is yet another example of how we can change the way that we generate, distribute and use energy in the UK. "And, while it's still early days, our investigations have shown that there is a real opportunity for community heating, particularly given the large residential and commercial developments being undertaken in the next decade as part of projects such as Thames Gateway and Medway Renaissance. "Technically, we've already built in provision for combined heat and power or district heating in our designs for the new plant and our studies show that we could potentially provide heat to up to 100,000 homes plus associated commercial and public service buildings." A community heating scheme would remove the need for gas-fired boilers in new homes or businesses, with steam being taken from E.ON's proposed coal units to heat water in a network that would then be piped direct to people's homes to provide heating. There are currently around 50,000 new homes on the drawing board in Kent. District heating on these properties alone would mean a saving of approximately 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to taking around 20,000 cars off the UK's roads. Agencies involved in the project are Medway Council, SEEDA, Thames Gateway, Kent Thameside and Medway Renaissance, alongside other key stakeholders including DEFRA and the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA). "There are clearly a number of issues that need to be resolved before we could give this project the green light," said Dr Golby. "Some of them are technical, others non-site specific relating to planning, regulation, markets and policy, but we're keen to explore any option out there in terms of finding additional benefits to our new projects. "The next step now is to push forward with a more detailed feasibility study to identify a number of considerations that could make this idea a reality." E.ON is already a market leader in community heating in continental Europe with around 50 district heating schemes in place across Sweden and Denmark. And by the way - I don't work for E-ON I am a Greenpeace activist.

Hiya I did reply to to your comment a couple of weeks ago here - although it was late, sorry. I'll post it again here in full: OK (and sorry for the delay on this): So far all E.ON have done is to announce that they're launching a feasibility study into CHP - something they should have done long before now as a matter of course. Even now there's no guarantee they'll actually use heat capture. From their press release they reckon they could heat 50-100,000 homes with such a scheme. That may sound a lot but, compared with the scale of Kingsnorth, it falls well short of what's needed to make the plant as efficient as it should be or to reduce the carbon intensity to an acceptable level. The point is really, the overall efficiency of the plant: just how much energy (heat+electricity) do you get out of it for the CO2 emissions. There's a strong case for setting a bar, a minimum carbon intensity standard, below which any new fossil fuel plant would be ruled out. A sensible place to put this might be at the same level as a good quality gas-fuelled CHP plant; any plant with more CO2 emissions per unit of useful energy produced than this would be ruled out. A CHP plant running purely on coal certainly wouldn't meet this standard. And one the size of Kingsnorth and only supplying 100,000 homes would be way, way off. But a state of the art CHP plant, like those in Denmark, running on a mixture of fuels that included some coal along with a significant amount of sustainable biofuels might well meet the standard. So, basically: We support super-efficient, multi-fuel CHP as the most efficient, flexible form of generating energy with the most scope for getting even cleaner in the future (by increasing the amount of cleaner fuels it uses as they become available). We certainly wouldn't support a CHP plant run purely on coal as the emissions would still be much too high. But, depending on the overall efficiency, we might accept that coal could be used as a part of the mix going into a multi-fuel CHP plant. That kind of plant on the Kingsnorth site might have to be smaller than the current E.ON proposal because you need enough customers for the heat in order to make it super efficient. But that’s the point: this location isn’t the only place in the UK that new power plants can be built! The size and location of power plants should be chosen to allow the most efficient, state of the art technology to be used in every case – not just as an add on or an afterthought. In the coming years we have to rebuild our energy system whether we like it or not – the money will get spent one way or the other. So the decision we have to make is what we spend that money on: whether to have the same inefficient, dirty, centralised system all over again – and get locked into it for another 50 years, or whether to start building a more flexible, super-efficient and low carbon decentralised energy system now. E.ON’s proposals, even with their scoping study, push us firmly down the wrong path. Bex gpuk

I can't believe that Gordon Brown is allowing more coal fired power plants. He knows about the growing amount of pollution, and what it is doing to our beautiful world. I say well done to Greenpeace! If only everyone could think like that, our world wouldn't be in the state is in now.

I'm with you on that one... Thanks Kotu, Bex gpuk

my parents live close to a proposed power station how close can it be built to someones home the reason i ask is to give us grounds to appeal to planning we lived next to coal dumps for the old power station for 20 years and no all to well the impact on the environment

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/nomorecoal/ JetG. rescue diver extraordinaire.

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