Proposal to build a gas-fired power station
Hirwaun Power Limited (HPL), a subsidiary business of Drax Group, wishes to build a gas-fired power station on industrial-zoned land located on the Hirwaun Industrial Estate in south Wales.
The power station, once operational, could run up to a maximum of 1,500 hours in any given year. It will provide back-up to other sources of electricity, including weather-dependent wind turbines and solar farms.
About Hirwaun Power
Hirwaun Power Station will be situated on the Hirwaun Industrial Estate, approximately 1.3km north east of Rhigos, 2 km west of Hirwaun and 5 km west of Aberdare. The proposed project site (grid ref. SN 938 061) is located on industrial-zoned land currently occupied by an industrial building used for storage and distribution.
Hirwaun Power Station, a Drax Group development project, will help support Great Britain’s energy security. It will be used during periods of peak electricity demand and when intermittent renewable technologies are unable to produce the power required to keep the country running – for example when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. It will not operate more than 1,500 hours a year and as such, Hirwaun Power Station will help the country to transition to a lower carbon economy. It will have the capacity to generate enough instant electricity to power 150,000 households. All efforts will be made to ensure Hirwaun Power Station has a minimal impact on the environment during its construction and operation.
The Hirwaun Power Station project will comprise:
- A new Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) power peaking plant, also known as a Simple Cycle Gas Turbine, designed to provide up to 299 Megawatts (MW) of electricity
- The construction of a new underground pipeline to bring natural gas to the power generation plant from the existing National Gas Transmission System located on the east side of the A4061
- The construction of a new underground electrical connection to export electricity from the power generation plant to the existing Rhigos electricity substation located nearby; and subject to securing a capacity market contract, the power station could enter commercial operation in the early 2020s
Planning & Consultation
The views of local residents, businesses and other local interest groups were crucial in shaping the final planning application.
To inform its planning application, Hirwaun Power undertook a two stage consultation process: ‘Non-Statutory Consultation’, which began in June 2013, followed by a period of ‘Statutory Consultation’, which began on 17 October 2013 and closed on 28 November 2013. The consultation plan (known as the Statement of Community Consultation and found in key documents) met all legal requirements and was based on a range of advice and guidance.
Following extensive consultation, the project was granted planning permission – known as a Development Consent Order – on 23 July 2015 by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) was undertaken and formed a central part of the application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) in accordance with the Planning Act (2008). Please see the Environmental Statement Non-Technical Summary in key documents. The full Environmental Statement and supporting documents can be accessed via the Planning Inspectorate’s website.
Working with local businesses
Construction is expected to take approximately 24 months and will provide job opportunities during construction for up to 150 skilled and semi-skilled workers. As part of the construction programme, Drax is committed to working with its lead Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor to ensure that local businesses have every opportunity to tender for relevant work streams they can support the project on. We will hold a ‘meet the buyer’ event in the local area early in the construction programme to provide more details on these opportunities and how suppliers can get involved.
9 February 2018 - Hirwaun Power to participate in future auction
9 December 2016 - Hirwaun Power to participate in 2017 auction
6 December 2016 - Drax acquires Hirwaun Power
8 January 2016 - Hirwaun Project update
23 July 2015 - Hirwaun Power secures planning permission – new gas fired power station approved by government
24 April 2014 - Planning Inspectorate accepts Hirwaun Power application
July 2020 - Hirwaun General Vesting Declaration
September 2018 – Hirwaun Construction management plan
August 2016 – Hirwaun Revised Works Plans
August 2016 – Regulation 6 Notice
August 2016 – HPLNMC Application Final
August 2016 – Hirwaun Draft Amendment Order
July 2015 – Secretary of State Decision Letter and Statement of Reasons
July 2015 – Hirwaun Power Project ExA Recommendation Report and ExA Recommended DCO
July 2015 – HPL Development Consent Order as made by the Secretary of State
July 2015 – Notice of the Decision by the Secretary of State
June 2015 – Electrical Connection Land Plan v3
June 2015 – Gas Connection Land Plan v3
June 2015 – HPL Works Plan v3 (Figure 1)
June 2015 – Hirwaun Power Limited rights of way street and access plans
June 2015 – Key Land Plan v3
June 2015 – Works Plan v3 (Figure 2)
November 2014 – Book of Reference
October 2014 – Mitigation Commitments Register
August 2014 – Updated Lighting Strategy
March 2014 – Construction Environmental Management Plan
March 2014 – Design Principles
March 2014 – Ecological Mitigation Plan figure 8.5v
March 2014 – Ecological Mitigation Plan figure 11.5
March 2014 – HPL Ecological Mitigation
March 2014 – Flood Risk Assessment
October 2013 – Hirwaun Power Ltd Section 56 notice
October 2013 – Hirwaun Power Ltd Section 56 notice (Welsh)
October 2013 – Section 91-93 Notice
October 2013 – Hirwaun Preliminary Environmental Information Report
October 2013 – Statement of community consultation
October 2013 – PEIR figures
October 2013 – Preliminary information environmental report non-technical summary
October 2013 – Preliminary Environmental Information Report [PEIR] Appendices
July 2013 – NHS Wales late scoping consultation responses
July 2013 – OFWAT late scoping consultation responses
July 2013 – Scoping opinion proposed Hirwaun Power project
May 2013 – Environmental impact assessment scoping report
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Site location & environment
Q1. Why do you want to build at Hirwaun Industrial Estate?
A1. Hirwaun Industrial Estate has three key advantages compared to alternative sites in the region:
- Close proximity to the national gas and electricity distribution networks
- Located in National Grid’s strategic area for new electricity generation – which is due to the growth in electricity demand in the region
- It is in an industrial setting, thereby limiting potential impacts on the natural environment and nearby communities
Q2. What steps are you taking to preserve the rural nature of the local area?
A2. We are conscious of the semi-rural environment of the area and every effort will be made to minimise the station’s environmental impact, both during its construction and operation. Its footprint and the steps to mitigate its impacts, such as screening and landscaping, will form a major part of the consultation and planning process.
Q3. Where will the gas pipeline and electricity connections be routed?
A3. Members of the public, local stakeholders and statutory bodies were consulted about the gas pipeline and electricity connection as part of the overall programme of consultation for the project.
The electrical connection will be routed, via an underground cable. Having examined the impact of routing the cable along Main and Fourteenth Avenue, Hirwaun Power has elected to carry out Horizontal Directional Drilling to take the electrical cable underneath the bog land to the north of the site directly to the National Grid Rhigos Substation.
The gas connection will be via an underground pipeline through fields to the south of Hirwaun Industrial Estate and will connect to the National Gas Transmission System on the east side of the A4061. A new Above Ground Installation will be created to connect to the Transmission System.
Further information is available in the 2013 Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) or PEIR Non-Technical Summary (NTS) found in key documents.
Q4. Does Hirwaun Power own the industrial estate?
A4. Hirwaun Power has a land option agreement with the owner of the industrial estate.
Q5. What is the footprint of the power station? Will it be noisy? What height will the stack be?
A5. The power station site covers an area of approximately 7.5ha and is located within the Hirwaun Industrial Estate; however, the footprint of the power station itself would be smaller than the full site.
There will be one stack (chimney) at the power station, up to 35 metres in height. The noise produced during the power station’s operation will be strictly limited by both the Development Consent Order issued by the Secretary of State and limits set by Natural Resources Wales as part of an operational Environmental Permit.
Q7. Will there be an increase in traffic?
A7. There will be HGV traffic during the construction phase but it would be routed to minimise congestion, noise and dirt away from Rhigos, Hirwaun and other places. Once operational, there will be a negligible increase in traffic movements, principally station staff travelling to and from work. A Construction Traffic Management Plan will be developed and agreed with the relevant Authorities for the construction phase of the project.
Q8. Is it going to smell?
A8. The combustion of natural gas in a power station does not produce any noticeable odour.
Q9. Will there be any emissions?
A9. A plume consisting mainly of water vapour may be visible from the stack of the power station but only under certain atmospheric conditions (cold and dry with high pressure); this is not ‘smoke’. The emissions from the stack will be strictly limited by Natural Resources Wales as part of an operational environmental permit, meaning that they will not be harmful to people or the environment.
Q1. Why do we need new gas-fired power stations?
A1. Gas-fired power generation is affordable, reliable and flexible. New gas power projects are acknowledged by the Government as being essential to a lower-carbon economy, as an alternative to coal, and the construction and operation of rapid-response Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) plants by Drax Group are part of a strategy to support an electricity system that has an increasing amount of less flexible, low carbon and renewable energy technologies. Many ageing coal, gas and nuclear power stations are closing down and new thermal power generation capacity is needed to help the country retain its energy security.
Gas peaking plants such as Hirwaun Power are designed specifically to provide essential back-up power generation to intermittent renewable technologies such as wind turbines and solar farms.
New gas generation is part of a transition from more polluting fossil fuels of the past such as diesel, oil and coal and to a low carbon economy driven by renewables, storage, demand side response and other low carbon technologies.
Q2. How often will the power station operate?
A2. We plan to use Hirwaun Power to plug the gaps that intermittency creates – essentially flicking the switch on and off at very short notice – from cold to full power in just 20 minutes. We anticipate it would run up to a maximum of 1,500 hours year. This would only be at times when the electricity system is under stress.
Through supporting more intermittent renewables, Hirwaun Power Station will also help to enable more coal-fired power stations off the system.
Q3. How safe are gas power stations?
A3. Gas-fired power stations in this country have an excellent safety record, and we do not consider there to be any issues of concern with our site and the neighbouring energy facilities. Drax Power Station, Hirwaun Power owner’s existing power plant has a better-than-average safety record among other coal, gas and biomass power stations.
Opportunities for local businesses
Q1. When will construction activity ramp up and how long will it take?
A1. Construction activity is linked to securing a Capacity Market contract for the project, which can happen no earlier than Spring 2020. If we secure a contract, we would expect construction to commence later in the year lasting approximately 24 months.
Q2. What steps will you be taking to make sure all companies are made aware of the opportunities to get involved in the project?
A2. A number of companies have already come forward when the project was in the planning stage. They are on our supplier database and we will ensure they are notified as the project progress. We also intend to host a meet the buyer Day with our main contractors on the build of the project. The day will take place in a suitable local venue and provide all interested suppliers with information on what work packages will be put out to tender and how they can get involved.
Q1. How will the power station benefit the local area?
A1. The Project can bring a range of benefits to the area during both the construction and operational phases. It will create supply chain opportunities including up to 150 jobs during a construction period lasting two years. In addition, the facility will contribute to business rates and be an active participant in the local community. A detailed socio-economic impact study is being prepared as part of the Environmental Statement.