Fiddlers Ferry power station to close next year

13 June 2019, 14:52 | Updated: 13 June 2019, 15:19

fiddlers ferry

Following a comprehensive review of its Fiddler’s Ferry Coal-Fired Power Station, SSE is proposing to close the remaining operational units at the site in Warrington, Cheshire. SSE is now commencing consultation with employees and trade unions with a view to closing the station by 31 March 2020.

Fiddler’s Ferry is SSE’s last remaining coal-fired power station. The company previously announced the closure of Unit 1 at the site in March 2019.

As national and international policies focus on promoting lower-carbon forms of electricity generation in a bid to tackle climate change, the economics of coal-fired stations have become increasingly challenged. The UK has committed to ending unabated coal-fired electricity generation by 2025, and yesterday the Government confirmed it would legislate to achieve a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

Fiddler’s Ferry has had limited success in the Government’s Capacity Market auctions and its current contract will end in September 2019. Its financial performance has deteriorated to unsustainable levels, with losses around £40 million in SSE’s last financial year and projections for further losses in future years.

SSE employs 158 people at the site and will seek to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible. Following collective consultation on the proposed closure, it will look at options to redeploy employees, while some will have a continuing role in managing the decommissioning of the plant and SSE will also offer voluntary redundancy on enhanced terms.

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of Thermal Energy at SSE, said: “The proposed closure of SSE’s coal-fired power station at Fiddler’s Ferry is a very difficult decision because of the impact on our employees and contractors at the station, their families and the local community.

“Financially, the station is making significant losses and our projections show that this will continue to be the case as the UK looks to phase out coal-fired generation by 2025 at latest. At nearly 50 years old, the station is unable to compete with more efficient and modern gas and renewable generation.

“We have a talented and dedicated team at Fiddler’s Ferry and our priority is to support employees and ensure they have a range of options available to them for the future. SSE is proud of the social and economic contributions the station and our employees have made for the local area and wider society.”

The operational units at Fiddler’s Ferry have a combined capacity of 1,510MW and hold Transmission Entry Capacity (the right to export power onto the transmission system) of 1,455MW.

Prospect union senior deputy general secretary Sue Ferns said:

"Today's announcement is disappointing but not unexpected for the dedicated staff at Fiddler's Ferry after a long period of uncertainty about the future.

"Prospect understands the necessity of transitioning away from high carbon generation, however we believe that it is essential that workers are supported during this transition, and we will be working on behalf of those affected through this difficult period.

"The failure to resolve the hiatus in the capacity market and the wider uncertainty around energy policy have undoubtedly contributed to this decision, it is absolutely essential that the government brings forward the Energy White Paper as soon as possible to give the industry a clear framework for the future."