COTTAM – THE END OF AN ERA
Cottam was one of 15 coal fired stations built by.the Central Electricity Generating Board and Southern Scottish Electricity Board during the 1960s / early 1970s. At that time these stations generated 75% of the UK electricity demand. They were designed for a 25 year continuous base load operation. Cottam was built as a typical 2000 megawatts station, comprising 4 x 500 megawatt units. Each unit generated full load over a 4 year cyclic period before coming off line for a 2 month planned maintenance outage, leaving the other 3 units on full load. Cottam burnt some 16,000 tons of coal per day.producing steam at a pressure of 1 ton per square inch at a temperature of 1050 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cottam was commissioned in 1968 and successfully completed it’s 25 year design life. By 2019 the station entered it’s 51st year of operation. Unfortunately due to carbon taxes it was no longer competitive, and failed to secure further contracts to supply the national grid. The decision was taken to close the station by October when it’s current contract comes to an end.
All UK coal fired stations will be closed by 2025 by government dictate, as part of the drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. On full load Cottam emitted some 41,600 tons of carbon dioxide per day, which equals 15.2 million tons per year. Over it’s 50 year life this amounts to 759 million tons. It is of interest to relate that Nottinghamshire was selected for the location of 4 of the 15 stations, namely Ratcliffe, High Marnham, Cottam, and West Burton. They have all completed a 50 year operational life, which by calculation implies that Nottinghamshire has been responsible for 2656.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, gradually contributing to increasing global warming.
As of June 2019 the station employs 140 staff. Originally the staff complement was in excess of 400. The station management have made every effort to find future employment opportunities for their staff. Presently they say that there are just 20 remaining personnel that they are still attempting to find employment for.
EDF are required to return the station area to a brown field site. They report this will take some 6 years, including for an initial 1 year decommissioning period, to be followed by a 5 year demolition period. The station management have promised to keep local communities fully informed with regard to progress, including opportunities to witness demolition of the cooling towers and station chimney.
Gerry Wareham, July 2019