Over the next 18 months, two of the four 500MW coal units at West Burton A will be available purely to meet capacity market commitments, in order to assist with security of supply, EDF said in a statement.
EDF’s Managing Director for the Generation business, Matt Sykes, said: “West Burton A and its loyal workforce have played a critical role providing power to the UK for 55 years, including during this recent Winter. Since 1966, the station has produced enough electricity to meet the needs of all UK households for more than 4 years, a truly incredible achievement.
“With EDF’s power generation strategy firmly focused on nuclear and renewables - and in this key year for UK leadership on climate change - we now believe it is the right time to provide clarity to our employees and all those connected to the site.”
A statement on EDF’s website said the station has a highly skilled, flexible and experienced workforce who will be supported throughout the process, with consultation beginning soon. EDF said it has worked closely with the three unions – GMB, Prospect and Unite – to prepare for the future of West Burton A. This has included discussing individuals’ future aspirations and identifying personal development to help people extend their careers after closure.
The full time Union officers said: “Today’s announcement brings welcome certainty to the dedicated West Burton A workforce about the future of the station. With Government policy to close all UK coal generation by 2024 we knew it had a limited future so we have been working alongside EDF to understand the implications for West Burton A and to prepare colleagues for the future. Knowing the date of closure allows people to make plans. Enabling a ‘Just Transition’ away from coal generation is very important for the Unions.”
Mike Macdonald, of Prospect, said: “We need to be sure that the transition from traditional generation to low carbon energy is fair to individuals who have worked hard and flexibly to keep customers supplied with electricity. I am personally very pleased to be involved in running ‘Just Transition’ workshops for the West Burton A team over coming months as we move towards decommissioning in 2022. This should help highly skilled and valued colleagues to continue to contribute to the industry.”
West Burton A began generating in 1966 and has 4 Units and 4 turbines producing a total supply of 2000MW to the national grid. The plant is capable of generating enough electricity for approximately 3.7 million UK homes and has so far produced enough for all the homes in the UK for 4.5 years. At its peak there were 750 people employed and today there are around 170.