Ironbridge power stations

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Ironbridge power stations
Ironbridge Power Station - geograph.org.uk - 524409.jpg
Ironbridge B Power Station
Ironbridge power stations is located in Shropshire
Ironbridge power stations
Location of Ironbridge power stations
Country England, United Kingdom
Location Shropshire, West Midlands
Coordinates 52°37′48″N 2°30′43″W / 52.63005°N 2.511999°W / 52.63005; -2.511999Coordinates: 52°37′48″N 2°30′43″W / 52.63005°N 2.511999°W / 52.63005; -2.511999
Status Operational
Construction began 1929
Commission date A station: 1932
B station: 1969
Decommission date A station: 1981
Operator(s)
Power generation
Primary fuel Coal
Nameplate capacity A station: 200 MW
B station: 1,000 MW
Website
E.ON UK

The Ironbridge power stations (also known as the Buildwas power stations) refers to a series of two coal-fired power stations which have occupied a site on the banks of the River Severn at Buildwas in Shropshire, England. The current Ironbridge B Power Station is operated by E.ON UK. The station stands near the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, where the Industrial Revolution began.

History[edit]

Site selection[edit]

Ironbridge was selected to be the site of a large, modern "super station" by the West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority, in February 1927. The land had been identified earlier by Walsall Borough as being suitable for power generation, in 1924.[1] The close proximity of the River Severn and several railway lines provided excellent access to both cooling water and a source for the delivery of coal. The flat land of the site, formed by fluvial processes at the end of the last ice-age, was ideal for the construction of a large Turbine Hall.[2]

Ironbridge A[edit]

Ironbridge A Power Station
Image taken April 1962
Image taken September 2010

Construction of the first Ironbridge Power Station (later to become known as Ironbridge A Power Station) began in 1929, and the first phase was completed in 1932.[1] The station officially opened on 13 October 1932.[3] The full generating capacity of Ironbridge A was not realised until major expansions and the commissioning of extra boilers and generating sets had been completed in 1939. This gave the A Station a total generating output of 200 megawatts (MW).[1]

As a result of the increasing demand for electricity after the World War II, it was decided by the Central Electricity Generating Board that a new, larger, 1000MW power station called Ironbridge B, was to be constructed alongside the A Station. The A station was partially closed on 27 October 1980, with the decommissioning of 100 MW of the station's generating capacity.[4] The remainder of the station's capacity ceased generating electricity in 1981 and significant portions of the station were demolished in 1983 prior to being granted listed building status.

Ironbridge B[edit]

Parliamentary approval for Ironbridge B Power Station was sought and granted in 1962. Construction began in 1963, with the aim to begin generating electricity in the station in 1967. Due to construction delays, some limited industrial action and the implementation of improvements that had been pioneered during the construction of similar stations using the new 500 MW generating units, Ironbridge B didn't begin feeding power into the National Grid until the 11 June 1969. Full capacity was not reached until the second 500 MW unit began generating in February 1970.[1]

Design[edit]

The pink cooling towers of Ironbridge

Project architect Alan Clark worked closely with landscape architect Kenneth Booth, to ensure that the station merged as seamlessly as possible into its natural surroundings.[1] In this respect, the power station is unique amongst British coal-fired stations. When viewed from Ironbridge, the surroundings of the station are hidden by wooded hills. The cooling towers were deliberately constructed using concrete to which a red pigment had been added, to blend with the colour of the local soil. This had cost £11,000 in the 1960s. The towers cannot be seen at all from the world famous landmark, The Iron Bridge. The station's single 205 m (673 ft) high chimney is fifth tallest chimney in the UK. It is the tallest structure in Shropshire, as well as being taller than Blackpool Tower and London's BT Tower.[5]

The station's Turbine Hall is decoratively clad in chipped granite faced concrete panels, aluminium sheeting, and glazing. The turbine hall obscures the rather more functional metal clad boiler house from view. A free-standing administration block continues the theme of concrete panelling, albeit with extensive use of large floor to ceiling windows.[1] Period fittings within the administration block include a board room, containing murals that reference the industries of the Ironbridge Gorge, and a grand entrance hall with a metallic mural.

So impressive were the measures taken to ensure that the power station was an asset to the gorge and not an eyesore, that it was short listed for a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors/The Times conservation award in 1973.[1]

Specification[edit]

The station generates electricity using two 500 MW generating sets. The turbines' blades are 1 m (3 ft 3 in) long each and when the turbines spin at their usual fixed speed of 3,000 rpm, the outermost tip of the last row of blades travel at approximately 2,000 km/h. The station uses low NOx burners and electrostatic precipitators to reduce its environmental impact. The majority of the station's ash waste is sold to the construction industry.[6]

Coal supplies[edit]

Until recently (June 2010) approximately 3000 – 6000 tonnes of coal was delivered to the power station every day, via a branch line railway through Madeley, Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale, crossing the River Severn via, the Grade 2 Listed Albert Edward Bridge. The railway branch joins the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line at Madeley Junction. The coal is delivered variously by DBS, Freightliner and Fastline. After the trains are emptied, they are usually stabled at Warrington Arpley Yard. Scheduled passenger services on the branch line were stopped in the 1960s, and so the line is kept open primarily for the transportation of coal to the power station. However, the Telford Steam Railway has aspirations to take over the now unused western-most track of the former double-track railway between the power station and Lightmoor Junction as part of their southern extension from Horsehay through Doseley.

A steam locomotive-hauled special passenger train, organised by railtour company 'Vintage Trains', visited the branch line on 3 November 2007. The tour was entitled Pannier to Ironbridge, and was hauled by former Great Western Railway 0-6-0 Pannier tank No. 9466, which ran a return trip between Tyseley, near Birmingham, and Ironbridge.

As of 2014, 3 daily trains from Liverpool docks travel with biomass chips which is now the main source of power for the station facilities.

Ironbridge today[edit]

In 1990 the CEGB was split into different companies for privatisation, and Ironbridge Power Station went through a number of ownership transfers before eventually being owned by Powergen. In 2001 Powergen was taken over by E.ON, an energy company based in Germany.

The station is currently the only major generator of electricity in Shropshire. The plant consumes about 1.2 million tonnes of coal and 20,000 tonnes of oil each year, and generated 2,990 GWh of electricity in 2004.[7]

Environmental group Friends of the Earth claim that as of 2006, the station is the second worst polluting power station in the United Kingdom per megawatt output.[8] Ironbridge has been opted out of the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which means the station will only be allowed to operate for up to 20,000 hours after 1 January 2008, and must close by 31 December 2015.[9] In 2012 Ironbridge underwent modification to allow one generating unit to run on 100% biomass (wooden pellets). The modification was undertaken to allow co-combustion with up to 20% coal for improved efficiency.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Stratton, M (1994). Ironbridge and the Electric Revolution. John Murray Publishing. 
  2. ^ Toghill, P (1990). Geology in Shropshire. Swan Hill Press. 
  3. ^ "The West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority". http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  4. ^ Mr. Redmond (16 January 1984). "Coal-fired Power Stations". Hansard. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Drawings of Ironbridge Power Station". http://skyscraperpage.com/. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  6. ^ "Ironbridge" (ASPX). http://www.eon-uk.com/. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  7. ^ Shropshire County Council (2005)
  8. ^ "Carbon Dinosaurs". Friends of the Earth. Archived from the original on 19 October 2004. 
  9. ^ "The Role of Coal in Electricity Generation" (PDF). Association of Electricity Producers. 
  10. ^ http://www.eon-uk.com/generation/ironbridge.aspx

External links[edit]