Back up power for your community


Centrica is developing a proposal to build a new gas-fired back-up power plant at Peterborough power station.

Last winter we began a project to dismantle some now defunct equipment at the power station. This work is continuing and expected to be complete next year. We are also now developing plans to build a new fast response power facility in the space that will become available. The new plant will work alongside the existing power station, with a separate access road, to help support the energy needs of the local area.

Our planning application (16/00775/FUL) was granted consent by Peterborough City Council in August 2016. We are now working to complete the dismantling work and finalise the details of the new plans with our contract partners.

Any new building work will not begin until 2017. 

What are we planning?

We’re proposing to build a small gas-fired plant that would sit next to the existing power station. The new plant would be capable of producing approximately 50MW, enough to meet the needs of around 50,000 homes, and would operate mainly during periods of high demand.

It would be built in the location of the old fuel oil tanks, which are to be removed as part of the ongoing demolition project.

Key facts

  • Peterborough Power Station was originally built in 1993
  • Capable of supplying power to almost a quarter of a million homes
  • New project to use land on the site
  • Additional supply for 50,000 homes
What’s happening on site

The project to demolish the old steam cycle began last year with the dismantling of two of the site’s chimney stacks. The next phase of this project is expected to get underway later this year.

Once the equipment has been taken away to be recycled, space will become available at the power station site, which we plan to use to further support local security of supply.

The map below shows the existing site layout and the area we plan to develop.

Peterborough gas-fired plant location

The new gas-fired plant

The new plant would be run independently of the existing power station with its own entrance off Fourth Drove. The whole site would be constructed on a small section of land (approximately half a hectare) where the fuel oil tanks are currently located.

Example Site Diagram

View larger diagram

The plant’s main engine house would resemble a warehouse structure (no more than 14 metres in height) and would contain up to five small reciprocating gas engines. The heights of the chimneys are being calculated but shouldn’t be taller than 30 metres, which is half the height of the two older chimneys at Peterborough which were 60 metres high. The graphics enclosed have been designed to reflect the maximum scale of our plans.

Site Elevation 30m Chimney

Unlike the existing plant, which uses gas turbines, we’re proposing to use technology similar to a car engine to generate power. Reciprocating engines burn fuel, in this case gas, with air to produce hot gases that are used to drive a piston up and down. In a car the power generated by the piston is used to drive the wheels. However in a power plant like this, the motion of the pistons will be used to drive the generator, which produces the electricity.

The plant would be operated as a highly flexible ‘peaking plant’ meaning that they can reach full load from a cold standstill within five minutes. To put this into context, a larger conventional power station would take several hours.

The plant would typically run for only a few hours on weekdays to meet periods of high demand or to provide back-up power when it’s needed. Once built the site would be remotely operated, only need occasional maintenance visits and would not mean an increase in traffic on the estate.


Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen to the existing power station?

Peterborough Power Station will continue to supply electricity to the local grid when required. The new plant will complement the operations of the existing site by providing fast response capabilities and help to secure the future energy needs of the local area. 

Why is this needed?

Due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy (such as wind and solar) and the phasing out of older, coal power stations, there is a growing need for new energy solutions that can respond quickly to local demand and provide a secure supply of energy. Gas engine technology is an efficient, responsive technology that can be relied upon to generate power at very short notice, reaching full power within five minutes.

Will it be noisy?

No. For the majority of the time there will be little or no noise produced because the plant will not be running. In addition, the engines will be housed in a sound insulated engine hall to minimise noise levels when the plant is in use. 

What about emissions?

Like Peterborough Power Station the proposed plant will use gas, one of the cleanest fuels available, which together with clean combustion technology will keep emissions as low as possible. Each exhaust stack will feature emissions monitoring facilities and we will work with Peterborough City Council and the Environment Agency to ensure the site meets all applicable legal limits. 

Will this mean more jobs?

The back-up plant is designed to be operated remotely and only require occasional maintenance visits, so new jobs are not likely as a result of these plans. 

Will there be a lot of traffic during construction?

Some construction traffic will be inevitable during the construction. Once operational the site would only require routine maintenance visits. Construction work on the new proposal is not planned until 2017 at the earliest. 

Is it safe?

Yes. This is a very safe and well tested technology, which will be monitored around the clock.

Have your say

We hope this has explained what we’re planning to do and why, but if you have any questions about our plans you can get in touch with the team by emailing