Britain faces an increased risk of blackouts in coming winters, experts have warned, after SSE announced it would close Ferrybridge coal-fired power station.
The energy giant on Wednesday said it would not re-open part of the plant damaged by a fire last year and would shut the station altogether by March, blaming rising environmental taxes and its failure to win subsidies from the Government.
SSE also faced calls to cut household gas and electricity prices after it announced that energy supply profits soared 50 per cent to £368.7 million in 2014-15, despite losing half a million customer accounts.
The company had been working to repair the fire-damaged half of Ferrybridge plant but said that work would now cease as the plant was no longer economic to run.
The closure worsens Britain’s looming power crunch, which is already expected to see spare capacity – the buffer between peak demand and supply – fall to unusually low levels this winter.
Prospect union said the decision “increases the threat of winter blackouts” and “reduces the UK capacity margin to virtually zero”.
One industry expert said: “The crunch was always going to be in 2015-16 and 2016-17. It was due to be eased by new build, but there hasn’t been new build. Each closure is building up to a situation where the numbers are looking pretty grim in 2016-17.”
National Grid is already preparing emergency measures to help keep the lights on this winter.
SSE blamed the Ferrybridge closure on a combination of factors including rising carbon taxes and the fact the plant was not awarded a subsidy contract to stay open, as part of a Government scheme to help keep the lights on.