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Aberthaw power stations

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Aberthaw Power Station is a series of two coal-fired power stations on the coast of South Wales, near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is located at Limpert Bay, near the villages of Gileston and West Aberthaw. The current power station on the site, Aberthaw B Power Station, co-fires biomass and as of 2008 has a generating capacity of 1,560 megawatts (MW). The power station is set to close on 13 December 2019.[1]

Aberthaw Power Station
Aberthaw B Power Station from the foreshore, Oct 2017.jpg
Aberthaw B from the foreshore
CountryWales, United Kingdom
LocationBarry, Vale of Glamorgan
Coordinates51°23′14″N 3°24′18″W / 51.387312°N 3.404866°W / 51.387312; -3.404866Coordinates: 51°23′14″N 3°24′18″W / 51.387312°N 3.404866°W / 51.387312; -3.404866
StatusOperational (Aberthaw B)
Construction began1957 (Aberthaw A) Late 1960s (Aberthaw B)
Commission date1963 (Aberthaw A) 1971 (Aberthaw B)
Decommission date1995 (Aberthaw A Power Station) 31 March 2020 (Aberthaw B Power Station)
Construction cost£50m (Aberthaw B)
Operator(s)RWE npower
Thermal power station
Primary fuelCoal
Secondary fuelBiomass
Power generation
Units operational3 x 520 MW
Make and modelAssociated Electrical Industries
Nameplate capacity1,560 MW
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

The station is the location of a carbon capture trial system to determine whether the technology can be scaled up from lab conditions. The system consumes 1 MW.


The site of the stations was a golf course before the construction of the first station.[2] Aberthaw was constructed by the CEGB under the chairmanship of Christopher Hinton. It is known as one the original 'Hinton Heavies', a suite of new 500 MW units procured at the time.[3] Aberthaw "A" Power Station although recorded as first generating power on 7 February 1960, officially opened on 29 October 1963, and at the time it was the most advanced in the world.[4] Aberthaw "B" station opened in 1971. Aberthaw "A" operated until 1995.[5] It was subsequently demolished. Its two 425 feet (130 m) chimneys were the last section to be demolished, and this was done on Saturday, 25 July 1998.[6] The site now has three generating units, each driven by its own Foster-Wheeler boiler. From 2006–2007 new steam turbines were fitted, allowing each unit to generate an extra 28-30 MW of power. Each unit is now rated at 520 MW.


Aberthaw burns approximately 5,000–6,000 tonnes of fuel a day. The site usually burns two-thirds Welsh coal with the remainder being either foreign low-sulphur coal or biomass.

The station takes its entire coal feed stock in by rail from the Vale of Glamorgan Line, under contract to DBS. Rail facilities included east- and west-facing connections to the main line, three reception sidings, No. 8 and No. 9 merry-go-round loop lines, two gross-weight and tare-weight weighbridges, two hopper wagon discharge hoppers, a former fly ash siding, an oil discharge siding, two sidings adjacent to the former A station, and two exchange sidings.[7][8]

Until its closure, the Tower Colliery in Hirwaun supplied much of the coal for Aberthaw. Coal now mainly comes from the Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme in Merthyr Tydfil, with other sources including: the Aberpergwm drift and opencast mines in the Neath Valley; and the Cwmgwrach Colliery via the Onllwyn Washery and the Tower Opencast mine based at the site of the original Tower Colliery. Further stocks are sourced from abroad, primarily Russia, and shipped in via the ports of Portbury, Avonmouth and Newport Docks.

In response to the UK government's renewable energy obligation that came into effect in April 2002, the station is currently firing a range of biomass materials to replace some of the coal burned. This is due to Welsh coal being less volatile than other coal and as such producing more sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.[citation needed]

Flue gas desulphurizationEdit

Aberthaw B was due for closure, but in June 2005 station owners RWE npower agreed to install new technology to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by installing Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) equipment. This was to reduce sulphur dioxide levels by 90% by 2008, when new European environmental regulations came into place.[9] Construction of the equipment started on 21 June 2006, with a tree-planting ceremony attended by the Welsh Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, Andrew Davies. The desulphurisation FGD project is being carried out by a consortium of ALSTOM and AMEC, which will employ 500 workers on site at the peak of construction.[10]

Nuclear proposalEdit

In 2006, it was reported that the site had been identified as a suitable location for a nuclear power station, based on the existing infrastructure and logistics.[11]

Court caseEdit

On 26 March 2015, the BBC reported that the UK government is being taken to court by the European Commission over excess emissions of nitrogen oxides from Aberthaw power station.[12] This issue was raised in the National Assembly for Wales on 10 November 2015 by Bethan Jenkins AM.[13]


On 11 December 2019, it was announced that Aberthaw would shut on 13 December 2019. After the station is shut, it will be decommissioned, which will take until March 2020.[1]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Wales' last coal power plant to go dark on Friday".
  2. ^ View Image : Barry, Wales Archived 15 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Clarke, Jonathan (2013). "'High Merit': existing English post-war coal and oil-fired power stations in context". Historic England. p. 8. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Generation disconnections since 1991". 2003. Archived from the original on 8 May 2003. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  6. ^ "LLANCARFAN SOCIETY NEWSLETTER 83" (PDF). 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  7. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (2000). Railway Track Diagrams – Great Western. Exeter: Quail. pp. 30A. ISBN 1898319391.
  8. ^ Munsey, Myles (2018). Railway Track Diagrams Book 3: Western & Wales. Frome: Trackmaps. pp. 28A. ISBN 9781999627102.
  9. ^ Aberthaw Power Station Archived 2006-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ npower media centre
  11. ^ Shipton, Martin (14 February 2006). "Aberthaw 'earmarked as nuclear station site'". Wales Online. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  12. ^ "UK government taken to court over Aberthaw Power Station emissions". BBC news website. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Oral Assembly Questions tabled on 5 November 2015 for answer on 10 November 2015" (PDF). National Assembly for Wales. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.

External linksEdit