Q1. What is Watt Power?
A1. Watt Power Ltd. (WPL) was established to develop flexible gas-fired generation assets to support the UK Government’s drive to a low carbon economy.
Q2. Has Watt Power developed power stations before?
A2. No. Watt is a new company managed by Stag Energy (www.stagenergy.com). Stag Energy was founded in 2002 and draws on a depth of experience with a team that has created and delivered over 10,000 MW of power generation and related infrastructure projects across the globe, of which 2,500MW was delivered in the UK.
This includes the Rocksavage gas-fired power station in Cheshire, Coryton gas-fired power station in Essex and the Spalding gas-fired power station in Lincolnshire.
Stag Energy also manages the Gateway Storage Company Ltd, which is developing an offshore salt cavern gas storage facility in the East Irish Sea. The project has been consented by the UK Government and the local planning authority (Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council, Cumbria). For further information on the project visit: www.gatewaystorage.co.uk
Q1. Why do we need new gas-fired power stations?
A1. As a result of environmental regulations and the Government’s drive to a low carbon economy, coal and oil fired power stations are set to close over the next 5-10 years. A number of ageing nuclear stations will also close during this period, leaving a large shortfall in generating capacity. A significant amount of new investment in gas-fired generation is therefore required by the end of this decade and beyond to ensure adequate security of energy supply. A large proportion of this new investment will need to be flexible with the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to short term variations in demand and “intermittent” output from onshore and offshore wind power.
Gas is affordable, reliable, flexible and sustainable and supports the drive to a low carbon economy
Given this, the UK Government sees gas-fired power stations as a key component in its future energy strategy.
‘Gas Generation Strategy’, issued in December 2012, sets out the important role that gas generation as a reliable, flexible source of electricity, will play in any future generation mix, supporting a secure, low-carbon and affordable electricity system. It states that “Gas currently forms an integral part of the UK’s generation mix and is a reliable, flexible source of electricity. Using gas as a fuel in our power stations currently provides a significant proportion of our electricity generation (around 40% in 2011)”.
The paper also presents scenarios which indicate that up to 41 GW of new gas generation capacity will be needed by 2030 to underpin long term electricity supplies and provide back-up to nuclear and wind generation at times of peak demand.
Q1. How many power stations does Watt Power want to build and by when?
A1. We are looking to develop a portfolio of power stations over the next five years in support of the Government’s energy policy to provide secure, affordable, low carbon energy. The stations are expected to have capacity less than 300MW each, so they will be much smaller than most of the gas-fired power stations currently in operation in the UK.
Q2. What are the main obstacles to building these stations?
A2. We see the main challenges to be planning and finance, especially given the regulatory uncertainty around the UK’s energy market and the current economic climate. Whilst the Government wishes to see new investment in new gas-fired stations, the current legislative and regulatory frameworks are not yet conducive to new investment being forthcoming. However, new gas-fired capacity is essential to provide electricity system security and stability in the coming years and we are confident that the commercial situation will improve which will enable our projects to be built.
Q3. Has Watt Power started work on any power stations?
A3. The process of selecting the best sites for a power generating facility has taken several years. Watt Power is now beginning to progress a number of prospective sites through the planning and permitting phase.
Planning & Consultation
Q1. Can you confirm who the planning authority will be?
A1. In England and Wales, an onshore electricity generating station is considered to be a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ (NSIP) if its generating capacity is more than 50 MW. As our proposed power generation plants will have generating capacity of up to 299MW, they will be classified as NSIP’s with the final decision resting with the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change. However, the relevant local authority, and numerous other local bodies, will be key participants in the planning and consultation process.
Q2. Will local people be consulted?
A2. Yes, public consultation is an integral part of the planning processes. Local people will be consulted before any planning applications are made and have regard to them in the application proposals. As soon as we have the appropriate detail from our studies and design work, we will provide the opportunity for local communities to consider and comment on our proposals. We will also make it easy for anyone to communicate with us via letter, e-mail, website, telephone or in person.
Q4. What about the environmental impact of the power stations?
A4. A detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be undertaken as part of each planning process. This will consider a range of issues including noise, air emissions, ecology, visual impact archaeology and transport. The EIA will form a central part of the planning application and must demonstrate compliance with national policies and guidelines.
The key output of the EIA process is the Environmental Statement (ES), which sets out the predicted significant environmental effects of the proposed development. The ES will enable the Planning Inspectorate and consultees, and ultimately the Secretary of State fo Energy, to understand the environmental impacts of the proposal.
Q5. How will a power station benefit the local area?
A5. A power station will bring a range of benefits to an area during both the construction and operational phases of the project. Construction will take 1-3 years and at its peak, the construction workforce is expected to number between 150 and 250 personnel, depending on the type of technology chosen
The Power Generation plant is expected to have an operational life of 25-30 years and operation of the Plant would require up to 30 full time staff (for CCGT operation) although for other technology choices this number would reduce to 10 to 15 staff. There may be further indirect jobs for contracted engineering staff during regular maintenance shutdowns and regular maintenance of the Gas and Electrical Connections.
Whilst subject to procurement rules, every effort will be taken by Watt Power to recruit locally and utilise the local supply chain.
A recent Report by Ernst and Young entitled “Powering the UK – Investing for the future of the Energy Sector and the UK” estimates that direct employment in the energy sector “……grew from 83,000 to 137,000 between 2008 and 2011, with growth of 6% between 2010 and 2011. The indirect employment benefit is over three times the direct benefit bringing the total number of jobs supported by the sector to around 655,000”. In addition, the facility will make a major contribution to local business rates and will be an active participant in the local community.
The total capital cost of each power generation plant is anticipated to be of the order of £200 million. Approximately 35% of this will be construction, civil and fabrication work which would be open to tender from companies in the area.