Inverkip power station

Inverkip power station is an oil-fired power station in Inverclyde, on the west coast of Scotland. It is actually located closer to Wemyss Bay than Inverkip, and dominates the local area with its 778 ft (237 m) chimney, the third tallest chimney in the UK and Scotland's tallest free-standing structure. In common with other power stations in Scotland it lacks cooling towers; instead, sea water is used as a coolant. The station consists of three generating units with a combined total rating of 1900 megawatts (MW).


Construction began in 1970 for the then South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB) in 1970. It was to be Scotland's first oil-fired power station. However, the soaring price of oil as a result of the 1973 oil crisis meant that by the time construction was completed generation was uneconomical. It was therefore rarely utilised to anything near capacity, with 1200 MW being mothballed and the remaining capacity being used to satisfy peak demand. A notable example of when it was used at capacity was during the miners' strike of 1984-85, when low coal supplies prompted operation. Generation ceased in January 1988.

In construction, provision was made on site for a fourth generating unit (to the north of the existing units), including a fourth stack inside the chimney. One design feature of the power station is the lack of steam driven boiler feed pumps, with units 1 and 2 being provided with three 50% electric boiler feed pumps and unit 3 with two 50% electric feed pumps. The main turbo-generator was manufactured by Parsons, and many of the major components were interchangeable with the turbo-generators at Hunterston B around 13 miles (21 km) south, on the Firth of Clyde, also then owned by the South of Scotland Electricity Board.

Inverkip power station was owned by the ScottishPower utility group and had been mothballed as part of the strategic reserve. The station was decommissioned in 2006. Until then it could have been fired up at any point to supply power for the national grid. The power station's equipment was intact and continually operating dehumidifiers were used to keep it in good condition while the facility was mothballed.

The site is to be cleared for housing and small business development following demolitiion of the power station in mid- to late-2010. Preparatory demolition work started in April 2010. Large amounts of equipment were removed to be used as spares at other power stations, including switchgear, turbine rotors, and control equipment. Electrical oil and other chemicals have been drained to make the site safe. Demolition began in June 2010 with the removal of one of the three large oil tanks. November 2010 all three large oil tanks have now been removed from the site.

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