On Friday, Organised and went to the two Didcot Power stations with a group of people from work, there is a third power station on the Didcot site; however that is mostly un-used; or used as emergency backup.
Map of Didcot
RWE npower the owners and operates of the Didcot power stations did not allow me to take photos of around the site; which means this post is going to be lacking photos; and most of the inforamtion is going to be block quotes from their site:
Didcot A Power Station [from]:
Didcot A is a dual-fired power station, which began commercial operation in 1970. The station can generate 2,000MW of electricity – enough power to meet the needs of some 2 million people.
Didcot A was originally designed as a coal-fired station. Three of the four 500MW generating units have now been converted to dual-firing, enabling the station to use natural gas as an alternative to coal. In addition, the station has the capability to use biomass fuels such as sawdust and wood chips on all four units. As well as the main units, the station has four gas turbines capable of providing additional support to the National Grid system when required.
Didcot A operates as an opted out station under the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD). This means that Didcot A can operate for up to 20,000 hours between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2015, when the station will have to close. But even though we’ve opted out at Didcot A, we’re still working hard to bring down emission limits – we have recently invested over £80 million in plant upgrades to reduce our environmental impact
Didcot B Power Station [from]:
Didcot B is one of a new generation of highly efficient, gas-burning power stations, which has been in commercial operation since 1997. The station is powered by natural gas and uses the latest generating technology (combined cycle gas turbines – CCGT) to produce electricity.
Didcot B can produce 1,360MW, enough power to meet the needs of 1 million people.
CCGT power stations are more efficient than conventional power stations as they make double use of the heat produced by burning natural gas: firstly in gas turbines, secondly because the waste heat from the gas turbines is used to raise steam to drive the steam turbine generators.
Strict operational controls ensure that our emissions are within regulatory limits set to minimise our environmental impact. We have completed a £60 million project to replace two of our gas turbines with the latest technology, which has increased the station’s efficiency to over 55%, one of the highest in the UK. This will also result in the station emitting less CO2 per unit of electricity we produce.
Didcot A being a coal power station was quite a bit dirtier and smelt of the heavy coal dust, most of the surfaces were coated in a fine black powder with a gritty texture, and the control building of A felt like it was built in the style of a 1960s hospital or school; the dark long corridors with rooms off both sides; and very little natural light passing into the rooms; the Didcot B control building was of a much more open and airy steal and glass build with eh control room being brightly lit; and with large panel displays giving an overview of the operational status of the entire plant.
I would recommend that any one who is even slightly currrious about where power comes from try to get on a tour of a modern power plant.
I hope that I can get on another tour of Didcot B, and that I can take notes and take a camera with me.