UK Grid falls back on SSE gas power plants to keep the lights on this winter

Ferrybridge coal fired power station
Ferrybridge power station

The National Grid has turned to Perth-based SSE as a stand-by generator to keep the lights on this winter if demand for electricity is higher than forecast.

SSE has been awarded a one-year contract by the National Grid to provide electricity reserve capacity totalling 750MW from its gas-fired Peterhead power station, as well as 12-month contracts to provide backup capacity from its units at Keadby, Fiddler’s Ferry and Ferrybridge, totalling 89MW.

The contracts were awarded by National Grid under its 2015-16 Supplemental Balancing Reserve process, which is designed to enhance security of supply by bringing forward capacity from generation plant that would not otherwise be available to the electricity system due to the ‘difficult market conditions facing traditional thermal generation’. 

Peterhead successfully provided back-up capacity to National Grid throughout winter 2014-15.

The new contracts do not affect the decision to close Ferrybridge power station by 31 March 2016, nor do they impact the ongoing preparations under way to bring SSE’s Keadby CCGT plant out of deep mothball.

The units awarded contracts will be prevented from business-as-usual participation in the electricity market, with capacity only being made available if called upon by National Grid.

Jim Smith, SSE Managing Director, Energy Portfolio, said:  “SSE has continually invested in the Peterhead site since it opened in 1980 and we’re pleased it will continue to play an important role in ensuring National Grid can provide system stability and resilience going forward.”

The new Peterhead contract will not impact on the contract awarded to the station to provide voltage support to the electricity grid from April 2016, announced in March 2015. 

The Carbon Capture and Storage project being developed at Peterhead by Shell with support from SSE is not affected by these contracts.

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