Tuesday 13 August marked the final day of electricity generation at Tilbury B Power Station after 46 years of operation, and a combined total of 57 years of electricity generation on the Tilbury site.
Tilbury B Power Station has played a role in the UK’s power generation mix since it began operation in 1967 as a 1,467MW coal-fired plant, establishing strong links with the community and contributing millions of pounds to the local economy.
During its lifetime it has generated a total of 168.8TWh to power homes and businesses across the UK – enough to keep 3 billion light bulbs burning for more than a year.
The station was scheduled to close under the EU’s Large Combustion Plant (LCPD) Directive, giving it 20,000 hours of operation from 1 January 2008.
After over 40 years as a coal-fired plant, in 2011 Tilbury commenced generation on 100 per cent sustainable biomass – a world first - for the remainder of its LCPD hours.
In 2010, RWE took the pioneering decision to switch from coal to 100 per cent sustainable biomass in order to verify the technical and commercial feasibility of wood biomass for electricity generation.
The second phase of this project, to give the site a further 10 to 12 years of life, required the closure of Tilbury B under LCPD and the development of a full scale biomass conversion to meet new environmental standards. Under this plan, the plant was expected to be operational again in around two years’ time.
However, the Department for Energy and Climate Change has confirmed that the project is ineligible for the new Contract for Difference support mechanism for low carbon technologies. In light of this, RWE has taken the decision not to proceed with the project as it is no longer economically viable under the existing Renewable Obligation (RO) mechanism.
Tilbury Power Station manager Nigel Staves said: “This is a sad time for everyone at Tilbury Power Station, but I would like to personally thank all of our staff past and present who have contributed to the success of the station, particularly in the delivery of such a pioneering development for UK biomass.
“I’m also grateful for the support of our partners in the local community for their continuous support during the life of the plant, and particularly throughout the biomass project.”
Tilbury remains an excellent site for power generation and RWE will now review future plans for the site. The lessons learned from the successful biomass conversion will be shared across the RWE Generation portfolio, as RWE remains committed to exploring new energy technologies that can provide energy solutions that are both affordable and sustainable.