Longannet thermal power plant

ScottishPower will shutdown operations at the 2.4GW Longannet thermal power station on 31 March next year.

Rising carbon taxes and transmission charges have prompted the firm to stop operations at the facility, which is the second-biggest coal-fired power station in the UK.

Located on the north bank of the Firth of Forth in Fife in Scotland, the plant had been operating for 46 years and was capable of using biomass, natural gas, and sludge as fuel.

Earlier in the year, the firm announced the possibility of closing the facility after it lost a short-term contract to provide National Grid with grid balancing services.

ScottishPower Retail and Generation CEO Neil Clitheroe said: "We have explored every potential option to keep the station open, and we still maintain that Longannet could continue generation in to the next decade, under the right economic conditions."

The firm has also announced it will drop its plans of developing a 1GW combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant at Cockenzie in East Lothian, which formerly housed a coal power station.

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Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Scottish Power’s decision to close Longannet in March 2016 is deeply regrettable and has far-reaching consequences for Scotland.

"Today’s decision is ultimately an unfortunate and direct result of the UK’s discriminatory transmission charging system that penalises Scottish electricity generators in comparison to those in the south of England.

"In Longannet’s case, the extra charges amount to £40m per year.

"Today’s decision is…a direct result of the UK’s discriminatory transmission charging system that penalises Scottish electricity generators."

"The UK Government must work with us to create an environment that incentivises the huge potential of clean thermal technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage."

The closure will leave Scotland totally dependent on SSE’s gas-fired power station at Peterhead, and EDF’s two ageing nuclear stations at Hunterston and Torness.

Scottish Conservative energy spokesperson Murdo Fraser was quoted by the Courier as saying: "In Scotland, two nuclear power plants at Torness and Hunterston are due to close by 2023, which means we will have lost 55% of our electricity generating capacity within eight years.

"The Scottish Government has no idea how to make up that gap, which will leave us increasingly reliant on energy imports from England.

"The closure of Longannet must act as a wake-up call to the SNP to bring forward an energy strategy for Scotland, which draws power from a balance of sources, not just intermittent wind."

Image: The coal-fired 2.4GW Longannet power station in Fife, Scotland. Photo: courtesy of Paulband2 / Wikipedia.