RWE npower

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RWE nPower, a division of the RWE Group, is a UK energy company which supplies both gas and electricity through its retail business and owns and operates coal, oil and gas-fired power stations.[1] The company states that it is the fourth largest electricity supplier in the UK, generating approximately 10% of the power in the grid. In 2011 over 28% of the electricity generated by the company was from coal-fired power stations.[2]

UK Coal Generation Assets

RWE nPower has, as of September 2012, 3,512 megawatts of installed capacity of coal-fired power stations at two existing power stations. These are the[2]

  • Aberthaw B Power Station which is located at Barry, South Glamorgan. It comprises three units and has an installed capacity of 1,554 megawatts; and
  • Didcot A Power Station which is located in Didcot, Oxford. It comprises four units and has an installed capacity of 1,958 megawatts.

The Tilbury Power Station which is located in Tilbury, Essex, operated as a 1,131 megawatt coal-fired power station from 1969 until 2011. RWE converted the plant to operate as a 750 megawatt biomass plant, which was commissioned in early 2012. The plant uses 2.3 million tonnes of wood pellets imported from a plant in Georgia the company owns and from British Columbia. The plant uses some oil for start-up operations. The plant is slated to be closed in 2015 under the European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD).[3][4] However, in late 2012 RWE Power revealed that it was applying for permits to allow the plant to operate for a decade beyond its slated closure date.[5]

Coal plant closures

In 2012, RWE nPower announced that it would close two power plants at the end of March 2013 in anticipation of E.U. environmental laws: the coal-powered 2,000-megawatt Didcot A Power Station and the 1,000 MW Fawley oil-fired power station, both in the south of England. The European Union's Large Combustion Plant Directive requires high-polluting power stations to close by the end of 2015 or after 20,000 operating hours from January 2008 unless they are retrofitted with technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[6]

On March 22 2013 RWE announced that the Didcot A Power Station had been disconnected from the grid after having run for its total entitlement of 20,000 hours after opting out of the EU Large Combustion Directive.[7][8]

Environmental protests

October 26-29, 2009: Twenty arrested at Didcot A Power Station

On October 26, 2009, nine climate change protesters climbed the chimney, and eleven chained themselves to the coal delivery conveyors; the latter group were cut free by police after five hours, but the former waited until October 28 before coming down again — all twenty were arrested, and power supplies continued uninterrupted. The power station was installing improved security fencing at the time.[9] The action was intended to draw attention to the plans of RWE Group to build as many as 30 new coal-fired power stations across Europe, including two in Britain. The group took over a room at the power station and pitched tents on top of a chimney tents. Two specialist climbers entered the chimney flues, intending to remain for a week in order to prevent the plant from restarting; however, after encountering hot conditions, they were unable to stay. At 4 a.m. on October 29, the group voluntarily came down from the chimney and were arrested. The group had met at Climate Camp in London.[10]

November 2, 2006: Greenpeace protest

On the morning of Thursday 2 November 2006, 30 Greenpeace volunteers invaded the power station. One group chained themselves to a broken coal-carrying conveyor belt. A second group scaled the 200 metre high chimney, and set up a 'climate camp'. They proceeded to paint "Blair's Legacy" on the side of the chimney overlooking the town. Greenpeace claims Didcot Power Station is the second most polluting in Britain after Drax in Yorkshire,[11] whilst Friends of the Earth describe it as the ninth worst in the UK.[12]

Contact Details

Windmill Hill Business Park
Whitehill Way
Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 6PB
Tel: +44(0)1793 877777
Website (Corporate): Website (Media):

Articles and Resources


  1. RWE nPower, "Who we are", RWE nPower website, accessed June 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 RWE nPower, "Facts & Figures 2012", RWE nPower, September 2012, page 18.
  3. RWE Power, "Tilbury Power Station", RWE Power website, accessed October 2012.
  4. RWE Power, "Flexible power from biomass", RWE Power website, accessed October 2012.
  5. Karolin Schaps, "RWE seeks to extend life of biomass-converted UK coal plant", Reuters, September 26, 2012.
  6. Karolin Schaps, [ "RWE to close UK coal, oil power plants in March 2013," Reuters, September 18, 2012.
  7. "Powering the nation for 43 years – farewell from Didcot A Power Station", RWE npower, Media Release, March 22, 2013.
  8. Graham Thompson,"Blair's legacy to be demolished", Greenpeace UK, March 22, 2013.
  9. Sloan, Liam (29 October 2009). "Didcot tower is 'taken'". The Oxford Times. Oxford: Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 
  10. David Adam, "Didcot power station protest ends with arrests," The Guardian, October 28, 2009
  11. Climate campaigners shut down one of UK's biggest power stations. Greenpeace. Retrieved on 2006-11-02.
  12. Carbon Dinosaurs. Friends of the Earth. Archived from the original on 2004-10-19.

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