New CHP plant on Teesside will be one of the largest in Europe

1 October 2008

Development company Thor Cogeneration has been given permission to build a 1020 MW gas fired cogeneration plant on 10.4 ha of reclaimed land at Seal Sands on Teesside in the north east of England.

UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks has given the go-ahead to Thor Cogeneration to build a 1020 MW gas-fired combined heat and power station on close to industrial sites near Middlesbrough, UK. The company expects to begin building the plant soon on a 10.4 hectare (25 acre) site at North Tees. It is expected to cost £500 million and to be operational in the first half of 2012. The company can now finalise the financial and contractual arrangements for the project and is expecting land preparation to commence very soon with the full construction phase commencing later this year.

Thor will be building the plant on reclaimed land within an area of mixed natural overgrowth and industrial development known as Seal Sands. It is intended to provide process steam to local industries and electricity to the National Grid. Thor Cogeneration is a new business creation arm established by the Stockton-on-Tees based PX Group.

The local authority, Stockton Borough Council, approved the scheme back in April 2007 and the licence to generate was also approved last year. The project is expected to create several hundred jobs during construction and a further 60 for operations.

The site itself has long been a dump for slag from an adjacent steelworks, and it is this slag that, under a land reclamation scheme that started in the nineteenth century, forms the backbone for most of the dry land in the immediate area, now well grown with grass and scrub.

The CHP plant

The plant, a 2+1 combined cycle configuration (two gas turbines plus one steam turbine) will burn North Sea natural gas imported from an existing nearby pipeline and is expected to achieve a generation thermal effciiency in CC mode of 58%. Electricity will be exported via existing overhead lines that pass close by the site on its northern side.

Following a review of options a ‘dry’ air condenser was chosen as the means of cooling the facility, which saves on water consumption, chemical usage in water treatment and, importantly, avoids the discharge of coolant into the local river system. The river in question is the Tees, which is undergoing a period of clean up following a long period of industrial pollution to its lower reaches.

Green project

It is claimed that results of an environmental impact assessment have shown that the project will create one of the greenest power stations in the UK. It should perform at a thermal efficiency that requires 20% less gas per MW hour of electricity generated than many of the UK's existing gas-fired stations and will produce up to 60% less carbon emissions than current coal-fired plants.

Malcom Wicks said ‘To secure our energy supplies and power our homes, it is important that industry brings forward new energy infrastructure to maintain a diverse energy mix. It's also important that as we face the challenges of climate change we move towards more efficient energy production and this power station is an example of that.’

‘It fits well with the government's recent energy review which concluded that while the drive to develop alternative and renewable energy sources continues, a new generation of cleaner, super-efficient gas fired power stations is likely to remain necessary in the short to medium term’ said Paul Verrill, Thor's project manager.


Although the Northeast Development Agency supports the plan, support is not universal. Local bird habitat conservationists have objected to the loss of pond and marshland habitats and in particular to the temporary use of a further 31 ha of adjacent land as a storage area during building, which they say will destroy it as a wildlife habitat. This practice is also, they say, a violation of the terms of The North Tees Agreement, a workng document for planners intended to provide a consensual basis for protecting natural enviornments in the area.

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