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Europe’s most-efficient power station enters commercial operation in the Humber

15 Mar 2023

The most efficient gas-fired power station in Europe has now officially entered commercial operations following a four-and-a-half year construction programme.

SSE Thermal’s Keadby 2 Power Station in North Lincolnshire has an efficiency of around 63 per cent, making it the most efficient plant of its type in the UK and Europe - and one of the most efficient in the world.

The station represents a vital next step in the UK’s journey to net zero, with plans already in place for the next generation of low-carbon power stations situated at Keadby. SSE Thermal and Equinor are developing Keadby 3, which would be bolstered by the addition of a carbon capture plant ensuring that around 95 per cent of emissions don’t enter the atmosphere. The project received planning consent in December 2022 and is one of three power CCS projects shortlisted by Government in its Cluster Sequencing Process.

In addition, work is underway to explore how to decarbonise the 893MW Keadby 2 further, with the potential to blend hydrogen into the plant as a first step. Construction on Keadby 2 – which is a combined-cycle gas turbine plant – began in August 2018 with Siemens Energy partnering with SSE Thermal to deliver the landmark power station. Within the plant is the world-leading Siemens Energy 9000HL 50Hz turbine, which is the most efficient on the market with cutting-edge 3D printed parts in its design.

With the ability to reach full power in just 30 minutes, Keadby 2 will provide important flexibility for the electricity system, complementing the increasing amounts of renewable generation on the grid. It has already been providing power to the grid during the commissioning phase.

The Keadby site has been home to power generation for more than 70 years and the village of Keadby grew up around the original coal-fired power station. The new power station will help to underpin a just transition for workers and communities in the region – and across its lifetime it is expected that the plant will make an economic contribution of more than £1bn and support 290 jobs regionally across operations and maintenance each year.

"Keadby 2 represents a huge step forward for flexible generation in the UK. As Europe’s most efficient gas-fired power station, it will play a pivotal role in supporting security of supply and backing up renewables, while serving as a clear bridge to a low-carbon future in the Humber and beyond."

Catherine Raw, Managing Director of SSE Thermal

Catherine added: “We are already working with Siemens Energy on plans to blend hydrogen into Keadby 2, which would not only decarbonise the site further but also provide evidence for the potential role of hydrogen in large-scale flexible power generation more widely in the UK.

“Building Keadby 2 has been an enormous feat of engineering and huge credit must go to the teams across SSE Thermal, Siemens Energy and many other companies who together have worked so hard to deliver this cutting-edge power station. This feat is even more impressive given the bulk of construction took place during the pandemic.”

Steve Scrimshaw, Vice President of Siemens Energy UK&I said:

“While we can't eliminate the problem of climate change overnight, we can use technology to propel the energy transition further – and faster. Keadby 2 will help accelerate the energy transition and enhance energy security through flexible, reliable power generation.

“At the very heart of Keadby 2 lies our new Siemens Energy 9000HL 50Hz turbine which is the most efficient on the market and has unparalleled flexibility, reaching full power in just 30 minutes. But what has really made that heart beat is the partnership and collaboration between Siemens Energy and SSE Thermal. The strength of our partnership means we’re actively pursuing opportunities to further decarbonise the site and already exploring other energy projects, all with the clear aim of delivering our net zero targets."

In addition, SSE Thermal is developing Aldbrough Hydrogen Pathfinder, a first-of-a-kind project in the Humber which would unite hydrogen production, storage and power generation in one location by the middle of this decade. Siemens Energy has been appointed to deliver the first phase of a Front End Engineering and Design programme for the project, which would support the evidence base for wider deployment of flexible hydrogen power.