Ironbridge Power Station fire blamed for 'energy crunch'

A fire at Ironbridge Power Station has contributed to a nationwide "energy crunch".

Ironbridge Power Station fire blamed for 'energy crunch'

National Grid is set to pay for mothballed power plants to be put online this winter to prevent power cuts after closures of power stations nationwide and a fire at Ironbridge Power Station in February created concerns over the number of power plants that would be available this winter.

The company, which owns and manages the UK's power grid, said the move was a "sensible precaution" due to the uncertainty.

National Grid had not planned to run the scheme this winter, but since June fires at Ironbridge and Ferrybridge power stations and the closure of Barking Power Station have contributed to concerns there may be an "energy crunch" when the gap between total power capacity and expected peak demand could shrink to just two per cent.

In addition, EDF has temporarily closed four reactors at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool for investigations over a defect found in one of them, taking enough power to supply three million homes off the system, which may have an impact.

Under the scheme, power generators will bid for payments to be available to provide power at peak times from November to February, with extra payments if they are used, and fines if they are not available when needed.

Cordi O'Hara, National Grid's director of UK market operation, said: "This is a sensible precaution to take while the picture for this winter remains uncertain.

"At this stage we don't know if these reserve services will be needed, but they could provide an additional safeguard."

National Grid also said it had received a positive response to its pilot scheme to pay energy users, such as factories, to power down during peak hours to reduce demand on the system.

In 2012, Ironbridge Power Station was given the permission to trial the use of biofuel, bringing 100 new jobs to the station but Eon, which operates the site, does not plan to re-licence it as a biomass plant beyond 2015.

Although some old UK oil and coal power stations will be kept on standby, Ironbridge will not be one.

The power plant was closed for more than a month after a fire broke out on February 4.

One turbine was badly damaged, but the plant reopened in March using its remaining resources and has been working to provide power to Shropshire ever since.

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