Scottish Power demolishes Cockenzie towers

Scottish Power has carried out the explosive demolition of Cockenzie Power Station, comprising the twin chimney stacks and turbine hall.

The first controlled explosive demolition of the 149m  twin chimneys took place at 12 noon with a second explosive event bringing down the turbine hall structure immediately afterwards.

The completion of this stage of the demolition project leaves the boiler house as the last remaining major structure from the power station. The boiler house will be demolished later this winter.


Over 160kg of nitro glycerine based explosives were used in the demolition of the chimney stacks, where there were approximately 1500 charge holes drilled in each chimney. 

The explosives were designed to blow out the base of the chimneys so they fell towards each other. Both chimneys were demolished simultaneously where they impacted approximately 140m in the air.

The 220m long turbine hall was demolished by 120kg of explosives, which were attached to 19 major box columns that were removed progressively within 1 second.

The initiation system was fully backed up with double detonators and connectors throughout where separate back up firing lines were run to each chimney. Overall 4,000 metres of shock tube was employed in the demolition project.

Originally operational in the summer of 1967, the Power Station generated more than 150 Terawatt Hours (TWh) of electricity in its lifetime, enough to power the average annual electricity needs of more than 1 million homes every year during its 45 years of operation.

In total, it is estimated that more than 10,000 people have been employed at Cockenzie, during construction and operation, with many thousands of other jobs supported in the wider supply chain and local area.

When Cockenzie opened in 1967, it was the largest power station in Scotland and Britain was still two years away from natural gas being used in electricity generation.

Coal accounted for approximately 72% of the fuel input used for electricity generation in Britain, compared to approximately 20.5% in 2014.

The station was built with a generating capacity of 1,200MW, comprising four identical units, each capable of generating 300MW. Due to strategic investment and high levels of maintenance, the station comfortably outlived its original estimates of a 25-30 year life cycle.

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