Back up power for your community

Roosecote

Our plans for the Roosecote Power Station site

Centrica is developing two planning applications for new back-up energy units on the old Roosecote power station site.

The old gas-fired plant was demolished last year, leaving the land unused. We have been exploring possible future uses for the land and wanted to let the local community know about our proposals before formally submitting our applications to Barrow Borough Council.

These applications have now been submitted and are available to view on the Council’s planning portal. To view these applications you will need to search for B12/2016/0354 and B12/2016/0372.

WHAT ARE WE PLANNING?

We’re looking to develop two innovative types of facility which will work to provide a much needed back up to the electricity grid and help ensure a consistent energy supply for the local area.

The first proposal is to build a new gas-fired plant, much smaller than the old Roosecote power station. This plant would be capable of producing just under 50MW which is enough electricity to meet the needs of 50,000 homes.

A second proposal is to build an energy storage unit. This single building will contain advanced batteries, similar to those used in domestic appliances such as hand held vacuum cleaners, laptops and drills. These batteries would be able to store up to 44MWh of energy and be able to start returning this to the local network in less than a second to ensure energy demand is met – for instance when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

We’re proposing to build the two new plants on small sections of land (around half a hectare each) at the southern end of the old power station site.

The below map shows the layout of the old site and the areas where we plan to develop the new plants.

Roosecote - aerial map with proposed site for new gas-fired plant and energy storage unit
The new gas-fired plant

The proposed plant would be significantly smaller than the old power station and would be built on a small section of land (approximately half a hectare) where the old fuel oil tanks used to be.

The plant’s main engine house would resemble a warehouse structure of no more than 14 metres in height and would contain up to five small gas engines. The chimneys will be 30 metres tall, which is less than half the height of the old exhaust stack at Roosecote which stood at 65 metres high. The graphics show the maximum possible dimensions of our proposals.

Roosecote - Proposed New Gas Fired Power Station Diagram

View larger diagram

Unlike the old power station, which used 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 the engines can reach full load from a cold standstill within five minutes. To put this into context, the old Roosecote power station would have taken 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 constantly monitored and operated remotely, only needing occasional maintenance visits and not mean an increase in traffic in the local area.

About energy storage

We plan to install 50MW of battery units in a single building with two floors which, like the gas-fired plant, would use a small section at the southern end of the old power station site.

Each battery unit is about the size of a briefcase and will be stored in stacks much like computer servers.

The building would be around the same height as an average semi-detached house. There would be some other equipment just outside the building including small transformers and air-conditioning units to keep the batteries cool.

Roosecote - Proposed Energy Storage Site Diagram

View larger diagram

The above diagram gives an indicative example of what the battery building would look like and how it would work.

These battery units are designed to absorb or supply up to 44MWh of energy from the grid for a short period of time. The units would be operated to provide the type of highly flexible response that is needed to keep the local distribution network stable.

Like the proposed power plant, the energy storage facility would be monitored and controlled remotely meaning it would only need occasional maintenance visits.

Key Facts

  • The old Roosecote gas-fired power station was built in 1991
  • Site demolished in 2015
  • New gas-fired engines to support local security of supply
  • Capable of supplying 50,000 homes
  • Battery units capable of responding to varying network demand in less than a second
  • No new pylons needed for either proposal

Why here?

As a brownfield site with previous industrial use and very good connections to the gas and electricity grids, the old power station site is an ideal location to introduce new and innovative ways to support local security of supply.

We know there have previously been concerns expressed by the local community about the visual impact of any possible new development on the site. To give you and your neighbours a clearer indication of the scale of what we’re planning to build and what this would look like, we have prepared a photomontage of the proposed new development compared to the old Roosecote power station. It is unlikely that you would be able to see the energy storage building as it would be located behind the proposed gas-fired plant.

Roosecote before and after the proposed development

 

Some questions you may have:

Why is this needed?

Due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy (such as wind and solar) and the phasing out of older, coal-fired power stations, there is a growing need for new energy solutions that can respond quickly to local demand and help make sure the electricity grid stays balanced.

Storing power in batteries means we are able to keep the grid stable whether demand is high or low, while the gas engine technology is also a very responsive technology that can be relied upon to generate power at short notice, in this case reaching full power within five minutes.

The new plant will complement the existing electricity network in the area by providing fast response capabilities to support the network. This available support means the country can continue to invest in renewable sources of power knowing the equipment is already there to step in at short notice if the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

What’s the difference between megawatts (MW) and megawatt hours (MWh)?

Put simply, a MWh is a measurement of energy whereas a MW is a way to measure power which is produced.

If you think of it like a car then a MW is the instantaneous power (or speed in your car), and a MWh is the amount of energy used over a period of time or in this case the distance you travelled over a set time.

So, the proposed power station would be capable of producing 50MW (instantaneous power) and the energy storage unit would be able to hold 44MWh of energy, meaning if they were discharging for an hour they would use the full 44MWh. But, if they only operated for half an hour then they would have used only 22MWh.

Will it be noisy?

No. The engines will all be housed in a sound insulated engine hall to minimise any noise when the plant is in use.

Similarly, the batteries would be incredibly quiet with the only noise coming from the air-conditioning units and transformers. In their final location the air conditioning units will be screened to minimise any potential impact on the area.

What about emissions?

The proposed plant will burn gas, one of the cleanest fuels available, and we will use clean combustion technology to keep any emissions as low as possible. Each exhaust stack will feature emissions monitoring facilities and we will work with Barrow Borough Council and the Environment Agency to ensure the site meets all applicable legal limits.

There will be no emissions from the batteries.

What about pylons?

We will use underground cables to connect to the local substation meaning that neither of our proposed developments will need new pylons or overhead cables.

We are aware that National Grid’s North West Coast Connections project currently includes plans for a pylon on the northern part of the Roosecote power station site. This will be separate to our plans.

Will this mean more jobs?

Our proposed units are designed to be operated remotely and will only require occasional maintenance visits, so it’s unlikely there will be any permanent jobs as a result of our plans. There would however be a team of up to 100 needed during construction so we would look to use local contractors where possible.

Will there be a lot of traffic during construction?

Some traffic during construction will be inevitable but we will work with our  contractors to keep any impacts to the community to a minimum. Once operational the site would only require routine maintenance visits.

Is it safe?

Yes. What we’re proposing uses 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. Barrow Borough Council will be in touch as part of the formal consultation process.

If you have any questions in the meantime get in touch with us on: yoursay@centrica.com

Freephone: 0800 294 0616.