One in ten UK power plants suffer ‘issues’ during start-up

The recent mixed results from National Grid’s Supplementary Balancing Reserve (SBR) has much to do with the ageing profile of the UK’s power plant portfolio, with around one in ten of the UK’s power plants experiencing difficulties in starting up.

Power market data specialist, EnAppSys, provided Power Engineering International with the statistic, following the news that out of four tests noted so far this winter just one resulted in a successful outcome.

Last week was typical of the phenomenon with 13 per cent of power station start-ups not meeting their planned generation profile.
Peterhead power plant, which experienced start-up issues last week
Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys, told PEi: “On average, across the fleet, more than one in ten power station start-ups do not meet their planned generation profile. This relatively high rate reflects the mixed age of the GB fleet and the fact that many of the gas and coal power stations in operation were not originally designed to operate in a two-shift mode ” in other words, off overnight and operating during the day.”

The high percentage of start-up issues should dissipate once power plant owners factor in modern demands, when developing new facilities.

“The low price of coal and carbon has led to lower levels of gas generation and last week nearly all of the GB gas fleet were switched off overnight and started up again each morning. It would be hoped that any new plant ushered in by the GB capacity mechanism will be designed with flexibility and start reliability in mind to reflect the market requirements to fit around nuclear and renewable generation.”

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