At the end of 2015 Lynemouth Power station burnt its last coal.
A small coal power station which was originally built to power the Rio Tinto/ Alcan aluminium smelter lying next to it. Since the smelter closed the power station has been contributing to the national grid. It was turned off on the 22nd December 2015 to enable a conversion to biomass.
Lynemouth Power station will convert to burning biomass. The change was dependent on a European Union decision allowing the government to make a contract for difference subsidy to the power station, this was agreed earlier in December 2015.
It is great that this means one less coal power station, leaving 12 others in the UK which need to be closed as soon as possible. Three others will close this March. The only new coal power station being proposed is the White Rose Project, which is looking unlikely to go ahead given that Drax pulled out of the consortium and then the government ended the £1 billion carbon capture and storage commercialisation competition which would have helped fund the carbon capture and storage coal plant.
Drax power station is also waiting on an EU decision as to whether it will be able to claim subsidies for converting a third unit of its six from coal to biomass. The Lynemouth decision does not affect the chances of Drax being given the subsidy. Drax is relying on converting some of its units to biomass in order to keep the whole power station open by complying with the Industrial Emissions Directive controls on air pollution.
The conversion to biomass is not necessarily a broad victory as biomass is not a renewable fuel, given the time lag between trees being cut down and their replacements growing to equal size. Burning biomass contributes to global warming and is sourced in unsustainable methods, including the felling of primary forest. For more details on this see www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/