Aberthaw power stations

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Aberthaw Power Station
Aberthaw B Power Station from the foreshore, Oct 2017.jpg
Aberthaw "B" Power Station from the foreshore
Aberthaw power stations is located in Wales
Aberthaw power stations
Location of Aberthaw power stations
Country Wales, United Kingdom
Location Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
Coordinates 51°23′14″N 3°24′18″W / 51.387312°N 3.404866°W / 51.387312; -3.404866Coordinates: 51°23′14″N 3°24′18″W / 51.387312°N 3.404866°W / 51.387312; -3.404866
Status Operational (Aberthaw "B")
Construction began 1957
Commission date 1963 (Aberthaw "A")
Decommission date 1995 (Aberthaw "A")
Operator(s) RWE npower
Thermal power station
Primary fuel Coal
Secondary fuel Biomass
Power generation
Units operational 3 x 520 MW
Make and model Associated Electrical Industries
Nameplate capacity 1,560 MW

Aberthaw Power Station is a series of two coal-fired power stations on the coast of South Wales, near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is located at Limpert Bay, near the villages of Gileston and West Aberthaw. The current power station on the site, Aberthaw B Power Station, co-fires biomass and as of 2008 has a generating capacity of 1560 megawatts (MW).

The station is the location of a carbon capture trial system to determine whether the technology can be scaled up from lab conditions. The system consumes 1 MW.


The site of the stations was a golf course before the construction of the first station.[1] Aberthaw "A" Power Station although recorded as first generating power on 7 February 1960, officially opened on 29 October 1963, and at the time it was the most advanced in the world.[2] Aberthaw "B" station opened in 1971. Aberthaw "A" operated until 1995.[3] It was subsequently demolished. Its two 425 feet (130 m) chimneys were the last section to be demolished, and this was done on Saturday, 25 July 1998.[4] The site now has three generating units, each driven by its own Foster-Wheeler boiler. From 2006-2007 new steam turbines were fitted, allowing each unit to generate an extra 28-30 MW of power. Each unit is now rated at 520 MW.


Aberthaw burns approximately 5,000–6,000 tonnes of coal a day. The site usually burns two-thirds Welsh coal with the remainder being either foreign low-sulphur coal or biomass.

The station takes its entire coal feed stock in by rail from the Vale of Glamorgan Line, under contract to DBS.

Until its closure, the Tower Colliery in Hirwaun supplied much of the coal for Aberthaw. Coal now mainly comes from the Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme in Merthyr Tydfil, with other sources including: the Aberpergwm drift and opencast mines in the Neath Valley; and the Cwmgwrach Colliery via the Onllwyn Washery and the Tower Opencast mine based at the site of the original Tower Colliery. Further stocks are sourced from abroad, primarily Russia, and shipped in via the ports of Portbury, Avonmouth and Newport Docks.

In response to the UK government's renewable energy obligation that came into effect in April 2002, the station is currently firing a range of biomass materials to replace some of the coal burned. This is due to Welsh coal being less volatile than other coal and as such producing more sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.[citation needed]

Flue gas desulphurization[edit]

Aberthaw B was due for closure, but in June 2005 station owners npower agreed to install new technology to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by installing Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) equipment. This was to reduce sulphur dioxide levels by 90% by 2008, when new European environmental regulations came into place.[5] Construction of the equipment started on 21 June 2006, with a tree-planting ceremony attended by the Welsh Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, Andrew Davies. The desulphurization FGD project is being carried out by a consortium of ALSTOM and AMEC, which will employ 500 workers on site at the peak of construction.[6]

Nuclear proposal[edit]

It has recently been proposed that the plant would be a suitable location for a power station using nuclear power based on the existing infrastructure and logistics. However, it is generally held that nuclear stations would only be built in remote areas and on existing nuclear sites. Aberthaw is generally considered too close to Cardiff and is in a conservation area.[7]

Court case[edit]

On 26 March 2015, the BBC reported that the UK government is being taken to court by the European Commission over excess emissions of nitrogen oxides from Aberthaw power station.[8] This issue was raised in the National Assembly for Wales on 10 November 2015 by Bethan Jenkins AM.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ View Image : Barry, Wales Archived 15 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  3. ^ "Generation disconnections since 1991". nationalgrid.com/. 2003. Archived from the original on 8 May 2003. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "LLANCARFAN SOCIETY NEWSLETTER 83" (PDF). llancarfansociety.org.uk/. 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  5. ^ Aberthaw Power Station Archived 2006-09-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ npower media centre
  7. ^ Aberthaw 'earmarked as nuclear station site' - icWales
  8. ^ "UK government taken to court over Aberthaw Power Station emissions". BBC news website. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "Oral Assembly Questions tabled on 5 November 2015 for answer on 10 November 2015" (PDF). National Assembly for Wales. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • RWE - Aberthaw Power Station
  • Gathering the Jewels - 1995 picture of Aberthaw Power Station
  • www.geograph.co.uk - Photos of Aberthaw Power Station and surrounding area
  • YouTube - Footage of protests at Aberthaw Power Station
  • YouTube - Aberthaw Power Station open day 1989
  • YouTube - Aberthaw Power Station open day 1997