Ferrybridge C ceases production

Ferrybridge C power station will officially close on the 31st of March after 50 proud years of electricity production. The coal-fired power station has been operated by SSE since 2004, and at its peak could meet the needs of two million people from its four 500MW units.

The West Yorkshire station began generating on February 27th 1966. It has since produced an estimated 462 Terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in its lifetime – enough to power the entire nation of France for a whole year.

In May 2015 SSE took the difficult decision to close the ageing station, due to a number of factors; not least the significant losses the station was forecast to incur in the coming years.

De-synchronisation of Ferrybridge C, ie powering down of the remaining operational unit, took place on March 23rd with a special ceremony for staff in the station’s control room. The station will officially close on March 31st and will enter a decommissioning phase which many of the staff are staying on to assist with.

Mick Gee, Ferrybridge C’s Station Manager, paid tribute to the people of the station and their 50 year contribution to the energy industry.   

He said: “In the eight years I’ve been Station Manager here I’m proud to have worked with some amazing people.  I want to acknowledge the contribution from all those who’ve been part of the ‘Ferrybridge family,’ past and present. It’s always been a special place to work where people help each other without asking.

“I also want to thank the local community for their support over the years. Ferrybridge’s cooling towers have been a distinctive landmark for half a century but people have always valued our contribution to the local economy and our role as a responsible neighbour. We’re very proud of that too.”

Paul Smith, SSE Managing Director, Generation, added: “It was with a heavy heart that we announced our plans to close Ferrybridge last year.

“But today is all about recognising and thanking those who have played their part over the years in Ferrybridge’s wonderful history and immense contribution to powering the nation. SSE is very proud of them and they should be too.”

SSE will maintain a presence at Ferrybridge thanks to the recent opening of its £300m Ferrybridge Multifuel (FM1) site. Opened last year FM1 is capable of generating 68MW of low carbon electricity using a range of waste-derived fuels. A second multifuel station is now earmarked for the site, with construction expected later this year.

Ferrybridge C Facts:

  • On 27th February 1966 Ferrybridge ‘C’ began generating electricity for the first time. It was the first power station in Europe to have four coal-fired 500 megawatt units capable of meeting the needs of 2m people – almost double Birmingham’s population today.
  • Ferrybridge C quickly proved a reliable workhorse running day and night. In 1973 Unit 2 ran for eight months continuously – a record at the time. When on full load it burned 800 tonnes of fuel an hour which is three million tonnes a year. Coal arrived via 90 tonne train wagons as well as barges capable of carrying 170 tonnes of coal.
  • Privatisation in 1989 changed the landscape of the energy industry so that power stations had to become flexible as well as reliable. The arrival of ‘two shifting’ meant that Ferrybridge C workers had to adapt their working patterns to switch the units on and off as required.
  • Ferrybridge C suffered a major fire in July 2014. Thankfully, SSE’s practiced safety procedures stood up to the test and no-one was injured.
  • At its peak Ferrybridge C employed over 800 people and provided lifelong careers for many people across generations.
  • The social side has always been important at Ferrybridge C which got its own golf course in 1976 and a cricket pitch and pavilion.
  • Ferrybridge C has always tried to adopt a ‘doors open’ approach whenever possible. Indeed, one open weekend  in 1991 drew no less than 21,000 visitors.
  • Ferrybridge C has been an iconic landmark visible from the A1 or M62 or to pilots who use the towers to guide their planes home. Its two 198m high chimneys and eight 115m high cooling towers, are the largest of their kind in Europe.