Kingsnorth power station

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Kingsnorth power station.jpg
Kingsnorth Power Station
Viewed from the west in October 2007
Kingsnorth power station is located in the United Kingdom
Kingsnorth power station
Location of Kingsnorth power station
Country England
Location Hoo St Werburgh
Coordinates 51°25′08″N 0°36′10″E / 51.418947°N 0.602702°E / 51.418947; 0.602702Coordinates: 51°25′08″N 0°36′10″E / 51.418947°N 0.602702°E / 51.418947; 0.602702
Commission date 1973
Decommission date 2012
Operator(s) Central Electricity Generating Board
Thermal power station
Primary fuel Coal-fired
Secondary fuel Oil-fired
Tertiary fuel Biofuel
grid reference TQ809721

Kingsnorth is a decommissioned dual-fired coal and oil power station on the Hoo Peninsula at Medway in Kent, South East England. The four-unit station was operated by energy firm E.ON UK, and had a generating capacity of 2000 megawatts.[1] It was capable of operating on either coal or oil though in practice oil was used only as a secondary fuel or for startup.[2] It was also capable of co-firing biofuel, up to a maximum of 10% of the station's fuel mix.[1] A replacement power station, also coal-fired, was considered by owners E.ON, but plans were abandoned. The proposed replacement attracted substantial public protests and criticism, including the 2008 Camp for Climate Action.


Built on the site of the former World War I airship base RNAS Kingsnorth, Kingsnorth power station was constructed between 1963 and 1973 by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB). From 1975 to the early 1980s, Kingsnorth was linked to the London power grid by HVDC Kingsnorth, one of the few examples of high-voltage direct current transmission then in use.

On the evening of 2 January 2010, a fire broke out in one of the pump rooms of the power station. The fire was put out by fifteen fire engines and five specialist units, though the building was badly damaged and had to be shut down.[3]


The station closed as a result of the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which requires stations that are not equipped with Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) technology to close after 20,000 hours of operation from 1 January 2008 or the end of 2015, whichever comes first. Kingsnorth ceased generation on 17 December 2012, having consumed all its LCPD hours.[4] Demolition of the coal handling plant commenced on Thursday 23 October 2014 with series of controlled explosions. The station's turbine hall was demolished on 9 July 2015. The final part of the boiler house was demolished by explosion on 27 July 2017,[5] with only the concrete chimney remaining.

Decommission Kingsnorth power station, partially demolished

Proposed replacement[edit]

As a replacement for the four old Kingsnorth units, in October 2006 E.ON proposed the construction of two new coal-fired units, Kingsnorth Units 5 and 6. They had proposed constructing two new 800 MW supercritical coal-fired power units on the site, to be operational "as early as 2012".[6] E.ON expected the supercritical units to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity by around 20%, as compared to the former subcritical plant.[7] E.ON also said the new units would be "capture ready" to allow the option of retrofitting with carbon capture and storage (CCS). Their environmental statement reads:

"CCS will be considered as an option...subject to the process of CCS being allowed by law and incentivised by a suitable framework and technological hurdles for the process being overcome."[7]

On 31 March 2008 E.ON announced that the proposed station would be used in a bid for the Government's carbon capture and storage competition.[8][9] In addition E.ON proposed that the planning decision should be delayed until after the Government has completed its consultation on CCS.

The proposed station came under much criticism from a number of groups including:

Climate scientist and head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies James E. Hansen condemned the building of new coal power stations stating: In the face of such threats [from climate change] it is madness to propose a new generation of power plants based on burning coal, which is the dirtiest and most polluting of all the fossil fuels. We need a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants and we must phase out the existing ones within two decades[17] He is however more accepting of coal with CCS stating that Coal could still be a long-term energy source for power plants, if the carbon dioxide is captured and sequestered underground.[18] Greenpeace is sceptical that CCS technology is viable.[19]

On 30 June 2008 it was announced that Kingsnorth project had proceeded to the next stage of the competition (prequalification) with three other competitors.[20] But in March 2009, Ed Miliband said that he was postponing a decision on Kingsnorth, and in the following month the E.ON chief executive said that "Without commercial carbon capture, [the proposed station was] 'game over'".[21][22] On 7 October 2009 E.ON postponed the replacement until at least 2016, before 20 October 2010 when it was announced that the proposal had been shelved.[23]


Greenpeace - October 2007[edit]

Six Greenpeace protesters were arrested for breaking into the power station, climbing the station's chimney, painting the word Gordon on the chimney and causing an estimated £30,000 damage. They had been planning to write "Gordon, bin it", but had stopped when served with a High Court injunction. At their subsequent trial they admitted trying to shut the station down but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change from causing greater damage to property elsewhere around the world. Evidence was heard from David Cameron's environment adviser Zac Goldsmith, and an Inuit leader from Greenland, both saying that climate change was already seriously affecting life around the world. The six were acquitted after arguing that they were legally justified in their actions to prevent climate change from causing greater damage to property around the world. It was the first case where preventing property damage caused by climate change has been used as part of a "lawful excuse" defence in court.[24]

In December 2008 Greenpeace received a letter from the Crown Prosecution Service revealing that the Attorney-General was close to referring the case of the Kingsnorth Six to the Court of Appeal in an effort to remove the defence of ‘lawful excuse' from activists. Also in December the New York Times listed the acquittal in its annual list of the most influential ideas that will change our lives[25]

Climate Camp - August 2008[edit]

The 2008 Camp for Climate Action was held near the power station and 50 people were arrested trying to break into the site.[26] Some of the tactics used by police during the demonstration have been the subject of complaints, a judicial review, and mainstream media criticism.[27][28][29][30][31]

Occupation - October 2008[edit]

On 29 October 2008, Greenpeace activists occupied part of the power station after accessing the site using boats including the Rainbow Warrior. There was an hour-long stand-off with security staff before they boarded the plant's jetty and demonstrated while others set up camp on a concrete island owned by E.ON. Protesters projected campaign messages on the building, and then on a bulldozer brought in by the company to block the image, until the early hours of the following morning when they were served with a high court injunction.[32]

Taken off-line for four hours - November 2008[edit]

On 28 November 2008 a lone protester entered the plant undetected and shut down unit 2, one of the station's 500 MW turbines, leaving a message reading "no new coal". The turbine was offline for four hours.[33]

Greenpeace - June 2009[edit]

On 22 June 2009, ten Greenpeace activists boarded a fully loaded coal delivery ship bound for Kingsnorth.[34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b E.ON UK - Kingsnorth
  2. ^ "Generation - Oil". E.ON UK. 
  3. ^ "Firefighters tackle blaze at Kingsnorth power station". BBC News. 3 January 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "E.ON UK - Kingsnorth". E.ON UK. 
  5. ^ Cox, Lynn (27 July 2017). "Boilers were blown up at Kingsnorth Power Station, in Hoo". Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "Proposed Replacement Coal-fired Units for Kingsnorth Power Station. Environmental statement" (PDF). E.ON UK: v. Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  7. ^ a b "Proposed Replacement Coal-fired Units for Kingsnorth Power Station. Environmental statement" (PDF). E.ON UK: 2. Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  8. ^ "E.ON enters UK Government's carbon capture and storage competition. Press release". E.ON UK. 31 March 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2008. 
  9. ^ "CCS Demonstration Competition". Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Retrieved 31 March 2008. 
  10. ^ "Take action of Kingsnorth". Christian Aid. 6 February 2008. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  11. ^ "The new coal rush". Greenpeace. 30 April 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  12. ^ "Dear Secretary of State". 1 April 2008. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  13. ^ "That’s what you call action". RSPB. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  14. ^ "Government must stop new Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant". World Development Movement. 3 January 2008. Archived from the original on 21 March 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  15. ^ "Kingsnorth power station decision bodes badly for climate". WWF. 3 January 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  16. ^ "Rainbow Warrior". CPRE Kent. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  17. ^ Leake, Jonathan (10 February 2008). "Climate scientist they could not silence". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  18. ^ Hansen, Jim (12 March 2007). "Special interests are the one big obstacle". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 19 March 2008. 
  19. ^ "Won't Kingsnorth use carbon capture and storage technology?". Greenpeace. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  20. ^ "CCS Demonstration Prequalification". Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. 30 June 2008. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2008. 
  21. ^ Stelzer, Irwin (24 March 2009). "Can Ed Miliband stop the lights going out?". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  22. ^ Milner, Mark (17 March 2007). "Without commercial carbon capture, it's 'game over', E.ON boss tells government". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  23. ^ Adam, David (7 October 2009). "Kingsnorth power station plans shelved by E.ON". London: Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  24. ^ Vidal, John (6 October 2008). "Kingsnorth trial: Coal protesters cleared of criminal damage to chimney". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  25. ^ Mingle, Jonathan (14 December 2008). "8th annual year in ideas - Climate-Change Defense". New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Miller, Vikki; Leach, Ben (9 August 2008). "Kent power station protest: Over 50 environmental activists arrested". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  27. ^ Lewis, Paul (21 July 2009). "Video shows surveillance protesters bundled to ground by police". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  28. ^ Monbiot, George (22 June 2009). "Police are turning activism into a crime". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  29. ^ Lewis, David (22 June 2009). "Pictured: The shocking moment police officer grabs female climate change protester by the throat". Daily Mail. London. 
  30. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (22 June 2009). "Protesters arrested for 'challenging police officers without badge numbers' lodge formal complaint". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  31. ^ "Women's protest arrest complaint". BBC News. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  32. ^ "Vigil ends". Greenpeace. 
  33. ^ No new coal - the calling card of the 'green Banksy' who breached fortress Kingsnorth, The Guardian, 11 December 2008
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ Siddique, Haroon (22 June 2009). "Greenpeace activists board coal ship bound for Kingsnorth power station". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2009. 

External links[edit]