Greenwich Power Station- a long term low carbon energy solution for London?

April 2013: Greenwich Power Station (GPS) is Transport for London (TfL)/London Underground’s (LU)  single remaining source of non-National Grid electricity. It’s Wiki entry lists it as a “a standby oil, gas, and formerly coal-fired power station available as a back-up electricity source for the London Underground”. A past TfL environment report sets out that  “Originally a coal-fired power station, Greenwich was built between 1902 and 1910 in order to supply electricity to the London Tram Network. Today electricity is generated by eight Rolls Royce Avon gas turbine engines which were installed between 1967 and 1972. These engines are fuelled by natural gas and are also capable of running on fuel oil which is stored as an emergency reserve at the site.”

A few months ago, TfL issued something called a ‘Periodic Indicative Notice’ the purpose of which  was to allow interested parties with appropriate experience to participate in “developing a solution to exploit opportunities for low carbon energy generation” at Greenwich power station.

The notice sets out that “Greenwich Power Station (GPS) is TfL/LUL’s single remaining source of non-National Grid electricity. GPS’s primary role is to provide a Central Emergency Power Supply (CEPS) to the TfL/LUL Network. The CEPs permits the safe evacuation of passengers from sub-surface stations in the event of a power supply failure from the National Grid. GPS is currently operated and maintained by UK Power Networks Services Powerlink as part of TfL/LUL’s Power Service Contract (PSC). The PSC will terminate in August 2013 and the operation of GPS will then return to TfL/LUL.

“GPS was refitted in the early 1970s to its current specification of seven open cycle dual fired (natural gas and oil) gas turbine alternators (GTAs), each rated at 11/14.7 MW. This re-fitment resulted in the GPS building being much larger than required for its present operation, for example, the large hall which housed the original steam turbines is now virtually unused.

“TfL/LUL is exploring a wide range of options to reduce the carbon emissions of its energy supply and its future energy sourcing. One such option is to develop strategic partnerships to deliver decentralised energy solutions for TfL/LUL and London.

“The utilisation of heat will also be a key requirement and the Technical Dialogue will look to understand the opportunities to link with potential heat customers such as the Greenwich Peninsula and Heart of East Greenwich heat networks being developed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Greater London Authority (GLA).There’s much more on TfL’s notice document. Further information on proposals for a Greenwich Peninsula Decentralised Energy network can be found on an earlier post here.

TfL’s interest in fully exploiting the generation capacity of Greenwich Power Station, including seeking to operate the plant in CHP-mode, helping provide low carbon heat to nearby homes and business is welcome. TfL will certainly be requiring additional electricity over the next few years as a recent Mayoral Question highlightedThe deadline for interested parties to respond to TfL was mid-March and presentations on proposals to TfL are expected to take place in May 2013 – so it’s a case of ‘wait and watch’ at the moment.

If you want to know more about Greenwich Power Station, there’s  some nice background to the station on the website of the wonderfully named ‘Greenwich Phantom‘.

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