High-tech power plant beats ban

Low-emissions technology wins go-ahead for Baglan plant despite policy against gas-fired stations

Commercial development of a new, low-emissions gas turbine technology was the key factor behind the Government’s decision last week not to block a 500MW power project at Baglan Bay in South Wales.

The decision appeared to run counter to Government policy not to approve further gas-fired power stations unless they are genuine combined heat and power schemes, which Baglan is not.

The project got through because General Electric wants to use it as a commercial demonstration of its latest large gas turbine technology, the H system, which it expects to achieve a generating efficiency of 60%. This is 2-3% higher than the current leading technology.

The H system uses steam for cooling, which allows the turbine to be fired at a higher temperature but without the consequent increase in atmospheric emissions – notably Nox – usually associated with high-temperature firing.

Greater efficiency and environmentally cleaner technologies will be critical to achieving the Government’s target of a 20% cut in CO2 emissions and other atmospheric pollutants by 2020.

GE’s Baglan Cogeneration Company will build the £250m power plant as the catalyst for the redevelopment of BP Amoco’s Baglan Bay site as an industrial park. The Welsh Development Agency claims this project could create up to 6,000 jobs.

The developers claim tenants would enjoy savings of up to 30% on their electricity because the site would have an own-generation licence and avoid grid charges.