Electricity generation set for a return to Cliff Quay in Ipswich

View of Diesel Generator and Transformer Sets at Existing Flexible
Generation Facility

View of Diesel Generator and Transformer Sets at Existing Flexible Generation Facility - Credit: cont

More than 30 years after Cliff Quay power station was taken off the grid, electricity generation could return to its site – but on a very different scale.

Plutus Energy wants to install two diesel generators on the site as a “Flexible Generation Facility” to provide up to 40 Megawatts of power at short notice to boost the National Grid.

The generators would only kick in when there was a shortfall from other generation sources like nuclear, gas, wind or solar power.

It is estimated that the generators would only be needed for about 200 hours a year – about 6% of the time – when there is major demand for power.

The generators look very different to the old Cliff Quay Power station – they look like a line of container-sized boxes – and would be part of a network across the country.

Although they are quite small, they will generate twice as much power for the grid as the energy from waste incinerator at Great Blakenham.

The application was logged with Ipswich Council at the end of last week and is expected to be discussed by the borough’s planning and development committee in October – although it is not expected to encounter major problems.

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In its submission to the planners, Plutus Energy points out that without small-scale generation plants like this there is a very real danger of blackouts at times of peak demand in years ahead.

It says: “The National Grid experiences a large fluctuation of demand throughout the day and throughout different times of the year.

“During periods of high demand, the National Grid aims to either reduce the demand, or increase supply, to maintain a 20% supply margin.

“These fluctuations are predicted to become greater with the advent of unpredictable renewable generation such as solar and wind.

“The consequence of this is that the National Grid will require more reserve services, of which Flexible Generation is the main contributor.”

Planners have not had time to study the application in detail, but it is not thought there would be fundamental objections to the proposal – it is some way from residential properties, in an industrial area and on a site with a history of electric generation.

The sub-station and power lines that were built for the former power station are still in use – which is why the site is suitable for the new plant.

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