(Alliance News) - SSE PLC is to shutdown operations at its last coal-fired power station, the FTSE 100 utility said Thursday, which is expected to run up further losses in future.
Fiddler's Ferry is a 1,510 megawatt power station in Warrington, Cheshire. It is nearly 50 years old, SSE said, and is unable to compete with more modern gas and renewable plants.
The full closure comes just three months after SSE said it would be shutting down one of the four units at Fiddler's Ferry.
SSE wants to close the plant by the end of March 2020, and it is now in talks with unions and employees. There are 158 people working at the site, and SSE hopes to move some to other operations as well as offer voluntary redundancies with "enhanced" terms.
"In recent years, a number of factors have weighed heavily on the viability of this asset. As national and international policies focus on promoting lower-carbon forms of electricity generation in a bid to tackle climate change, the economics of coal-fired stations have become increasingly challenged," said SSE.
"The UK has committed to ending unabated coal-fired electricity generation by 2025, and yesterday the government confirmed it would legislate to achieve a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050."
In SSE's financial year ended March, the power station posted a loss of around GBP40 million, and SSE expects this to widen further were operations to continue.
The managing director of SSE's Thermal Energy unit Stephen Wheeler said: "The proposed closure of SSE's coal-fired power station at Fiddler's Ferry is not a decision we are taking lightly. We are very aware of the impact on our employees and contractors at the station, their families and the local community. Fiddler's Ferry is SSE's last operational coal-fired station.
"Environmentally, coal is a major emitter of carbon dioxide, and the UK Government has committed to ending unabated coal-fired electricity generation by 2025 at the latest. Financially, Fiddler's Ferry, is loss-making and our projections show it will continue to be so. These losses are unsustainable beyond the end of the current financial year."
On Wednesday, outgoing UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a legally binding plan to get the UK's carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The current goal is to cut them by 80% by that year, which was set in 2008.
In a separate announcement, SSE said its gas-fired Peterhead power station has failed to secure a conditional capacity market agreement for the period October 2019 to September 2020.
This will not impact operations over the coming winter, SSE said, with the station having a capacity agreement for October 2021 to September 2022 for 1,062 megawatts.
This was the only SSE asset taking part in the auction.
Shares were broadly flat Thursday afternoon at 1,123.50 pence each.