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E.ON’s Ironbridge Power Station to generate electricity for the last time

E.ON UK, a subsidiary of the German power company E.ON has confirmed that Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire will cease commercial generation and will close permanently following.

The iconic plant, which has reached its 20,000 hours limit of generation under the Large Combustion Plant Directive, was officially first synchronised to the grid by former E.ON colleague Mike Smith in 1969.

Over its 46-year-long career the plant has played an important role in generating the electricity required to power homes and businesses in the UK.

Mike Smith, who retired from his role as shift charge engineer at Ironbridge in 1992 after over 25 years of service, was invited back to press the button to cease generation and mark the closure of the plant.    

‘It was a great honour to be given the responsibility of synchronising Ironbridge Power Station to the UK electricity supply system in 1969, when I was starting my career in the energy industry,’ Smith says.

‘Obviously many people will have mixed emotions today, but I’m proud to have contributed to the success of a power station which has been at the cornerstone of energy generation and has supported the careers of many members of staff for so many years,’ he continues

A small team will now begin the decommissioning phase, which is due to run until early 2017, ensuring the plant is shut down safely and the site is secure.

The team will also remove fixtures and equipment from the buildings, including a large mosaic which was designed and created by pupils from St Martins Modern School in 1966.

The mosaic, which has been prominently displayed in the plant’s main conference room, will be returned to the school in Oswestry.

Once the decommissioning process is complete, a decision will be made regarding the future of the Ironbridge site and E.ON will provide updates as appropriate.

Tony Cocker, E.ON CEO, is proud of the contribution Ironbridge Power Station has made to the UK’s energy infrastructure.

‘The closure of such an iconic plant will of course be tinged with sadness, having played such an important role in the community. Over 400 people worked on site when Ironbridge was at the peak of generation, many from the local area.

‘I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported the ongoing operations and maintenance at the plant, and our continued focus will be supporting those colleagues who are directly affected by today’s closure,’ Cocker says.

The construction of Ironbridge Power Station began in 1962 and is located close to where the Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century.

The plant was originally designed to run on coal and at full capacity was capable of generating up to 1000MW from two 500MW units.

It was later converted to biomass and electrical output was reduced to 740MW.

However, only one of the two units has been operational following a fire in 2014 and capacity was further reduced to 370MW.