Longannet power station: MSPs consider future

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s energy committee will hear from Scottish Power, National Grid and the electricity industry regulator Ofgem.

It was recently revealed the cost of connecting to the grid meant Longannet may close earlier than planned.

MSPs want to learn more about its future and the security of Scotland’s electricity supplies.

Longannet, which generates about a quarter of Scotland’s electricity, is one of Europe’s biggest power stations.

However, the requirement to tackle climate change by cutting carbon emissions means the power station does not have a long-term future.

Scottish Power, which runs the 40-year-old coal-burner, was understood to be trying to keep Longannet in operation until the end of the decade.

But in recent weeks it has warned it may be forced to close the power station earlier than expected because of the cost of connecting it to the grid.

Local economy

Scottish generators, including Longannet, are said by the Scottish government to account for about 12% of the capacity connected to Britain’s high-voltage electricity network but pay about 35% of the charges.

MSPs are concerned about the security of Scotland’s electricity supplies if the huge power station closes early.

Longannet is also important for maintaining grid stability and would play a key role in restoring supplies in the event of widespread power cuts.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, convenor of the energy committee at Holyrood, told BBC Scotland there were also serious concerns about the possible effects of an early Longannet closure on the local economy.

“Our concern of course isn’t just for security of supply, that’s very important,” he told Good Morning Scotland.

“Twenty percent of Scotland’s electricity comes from Longannet. But our interest, of course, is in the economic future of that part of Fife: 250 quite well paid jobs [at the plant].

“If they’re going to go, what’s going to happen to the workers and what’s going to happen to the local economy?”

Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told BBC Scotland last month that Longannet was necessary to “meet demand”.

Following a meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board, First Minister Ms Sturgeon wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron to call for an analysis of electricity capacity margins in Scotland.

The UK government’s Business Secretary Vince Cable insisted there was no threat to the security of Scotland’s electricity supply.