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Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station - Wikipedia

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Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Uniper at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire, England. Commissioned in 1968 by the Central Electricity Generating Board, the station has a capacity of 2,000 MW.


View from the south west including the A453 (July 2020)

Cooling towers viewed from the East Midlands Parkway rail station platform

The power station occupies a prominent position next to the A453, close to junction 24 of the M1, the River Trent and the Midland Main Line (adjacent to East Midlands Parkway station) and dominates the skyline for many miles around with its eight cooling towers and 199 m (653 ft) tall chimney. It has four coal-fired boilers made by Babcock & Wilcox, each of which drives a 500 megawatt (MW) Parsons generator set. There were four boilers rated at 435 kg/s, steam conditions were 158.58 bar at 566 °C, with reheat to 566 °C.[2] This gives the station a total generating capacity of 2,116 MW, which is enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 2.02 million homes.[3] There were 4 x 17.5 MW auxiliary gas turbines on the site, these had been commissioned in December 1966.[2]

Ratcliffe power station is supplied with coal and other bulk commodities by rail via a branch off the adjacent Midland Main Line (MML). Rail facilities include a north facing junction off the MML slow lines, two tracks of weighbridges and coal discharge hoppers, a flue gas desulfurisation discharge and loading hopper. There was formerly a fly ash bunker and loading point with a south-facing connection to the MML, this was extant in 1990 but had been demolished and disconnected by 2005.[4][5][6]

Uniper has its Technology Centre at the site, where it carries out research and development on power generation.

Environmental performance[edit]

The plant emits 8-10 million tonnes of CO

annually[7] making it the 18th highest CO

2-emitting power station in Europe.[8][needs update]

Ratcliffe power station is compliant with the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD),[9] an EU directive that aims to reduce acidification, ground level ozone and particulates by controlling the emissions of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and dust from large combustion plants. To reduce emissions of sulphur the plant is fitted with Flue Gas Desulphurisation, and also with a Boosted Over Fire Air system to reduce the concentration of oxides of nitrogen in the flue gas.[10]

Ratcliffe power station is the first in the United Kingdom to be fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, which reduces the emissions of nitrogen oxides, through the injection of ammonia directly into the flue gas and passing it over a catalyst.[11]


Construction of the power station began in 1963[1] and it opened in 1968.[12][13] The architects were Godfrey Rossant and J. W. Gebarowicz of Building Design Partnership. White cladding was used on the boiler and turbine houses and the end elevations had vertical bands of glazing to emphasise their verticality, the four concrete coal bunkers projected above the roof-line.[14] In 1981, the station was burning 5.5 million tonnes of coal a year, consuming 65% of the output of south Nottinghamshire's coal-mines.[15] Emissions of sulphur dioxide, which cause acid rain, were greatly reduced in 1993 when a flue gas desulphurisation system using a wet limestone-gypsum process became operational on all of the station's boilers.[16] Emissions of oxides of nitrogen, greenhouse gases which also cause damage to the ozone layer, were reduced in 2004 when new equipment was fitted to Unit 1 by Alstom.[17]

In 1975/76 and again in 1986/87 Ratcliffe was presented with the Hinton Cup, the CEGB's "good house keeping trophy". The award was commissioned by Sir Christopher Hinton, the first chairman of the CEGB.

In 2009 East Midlands Trains opened its new East Midlands Parkway railway station in the shadow of the power station, which serves East Midlands Airport. It has a car park for 850 vehicles.[18]

On 11 February 2009, Unit 1 became the first UK 500 MW coal-fired unit to run for 250,000 hours.[10]

On 2 April 2009, E.ON UK announced it had installed a 68 panel solar photovoltaic array at the power station "to help heat and light the admin block, saving an estimated 6.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year".[19]

In 2010 the power plant was a location in the feature film Skeletons, directed by Nick Whitfield and starring Ed Gaughan, Andrew Buckley and Tuppence Middleton. At the time of filming a flood on the River Soar had caused many boats to be stranded in fields. Ed Gaughan's character lives in one of the stranded boats close to the power station.

Environmental protests[edit]

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, from the east, with a train of coal being unloaded as it passes at walking pace through the building at middle right.

On 10 April 2007, eleven environmental activists from a group called Eastside Climate Action were arrested after they entered the power station and climbed onto equipment in order to draw attention to greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power stations, when E.ON UK were proposing to build more.[20]

In 2009, it was claimed that the station was the intended target of protestors when, in the early hours of 14 April, police arrested 114 people at Iona School who, the police said, were planning to disrupt the running of the power plant. Those arrested were not charged and soon released on bail. Later, 26 of those arrested were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass, a charge that carries a maximum six months sentence.[21] Twenty of these activists, having admitted that they planned to break into the power station, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. When sentencing 18 of these protesters, in December 2010, the judge called them '...decent men and women...' and handed out community orders with only two having to pay reduced expenses.[22] The charge against the six pleading not guilty was dropped when it was revealed that Mark Kennedy of the Metropolitan Police had been working as an undercover infiltrator for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and had played a significant role in organising the action.[23] Additionally, recordings made by Kennedy should have been made available to the Crown Prosecution Service and the defence team, in accordance with the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996.[citation needed] Following these revelations the twenty convicted activists appealed, and their convictions have since been quashed.[24]

Between 17 and 18 October 2009, protesters from Climate Camp, Climate Rush and Plane Stupid,[25] took part in 'The Great Climate Swoop' at the site. The police arrested 10 people before the protest began on suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage.[26] Some 1,000 people took part, and during the first day groups of up to several hundred people pulled down security fencing at a number of points around the plant.[27] Fifty-six arrests were made during the protest and a number of people were injured, including a policeman, who was airlifted to hospital but later discharged.[28]

Commercial nuclear fusion reactor[edit]

After the coal-fired plant is decommissioned in 2025 the site is under consideration for Britain's first commercial fusion-powered electricity generating plant, using the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) process.[29]


  1. ^ a b "High merit post war coal & oil fired power stations" (PDF). Appendix 1. p. 3. Retrieved 6 August 2020.CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. ^ a b Handbook of Electricity Supply Statistics 1989. London: The Electricity Council. 1990. pp. 4 & 8. ISBN 085188122X.
  3. ^ "Ratcliffe-on-Soar". E.ON UK.
  4. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (1990). London Midland Region Track Diagrams. Exeter: Quail. pp. 4A. ISBN 0900609745.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (2005). Railway Track Diagrams Book 4: Midlands & North West. Bradford on Avon: Trackmaps. pp. 4A. ISBN 0954986601.
  6. ^ Bridge, Mike (2013). Railway Track Diagrams Book 4: Midlands & North West. Bradford on Avon: Trackmaps. pp. 4A. ISBN 978-0-9549866-7-4.
  7. ^ see table provided by E.ON UK on
  8. ^ "Protesters target E.ON's Ratcliffe plant," Reuters, 31 August 2009.
  9. ^ "Large combustion plant directive". E.ON UK.
  10. ^ a b "E.ON UK - Ratcliffe-on-Soar". E.ON UK.
  11. ^ "Emission control ensures power station's survival". World Pumps. 2015 (10): 28-29. 1 October 2015. doi:10.1016/S0262-1762(15)30340-0.
  12. ^ "RATCLIFFE-ON-SOAR POWER STATION". Churchill Refurbishment. Archived from the original on 3 January 2006.
  13. ^ "In pictures: Construction of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station". Nottinghampost. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  14. ^ Clarke, Jonathan (2013). High merit: existing English post-war coal and oil-fired power stations in context. London: Historic England. pp. 17-18.
  15. ^ "The Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway > Themes > The coal industry in Nottinghamshire > Overview".
  16. ^ "PowerGen (UK), Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station". Coalonline.
  17. ^ "ALSTOM wins major NOx reduction order in UK".
  18. ^ "East Midlands rail route could be electrified by 2022, says Shoveller". This is Business - East Midlands. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009.
  19. ^ "The future's bright at E.ON's Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station". E.ON UK. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011.
  20. ^ "Protest is held at power station". BBC News. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  21. ^ "Police hold 114 in power protest". BBC News. 13 April 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  22. ^ "Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station protesters sentenced". BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  23. ^ 'Undercover officer who spied on green activists quits Met', The Guardian, 10 January 2011
  24. ^ "Power station activists win appeal over missing police spy's tapes". The Guardian. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  25. ^ "Hundreds of protesters expected to 'take over' Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station". This is Nottingham. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  26. ^ Dwyer, Danielle (17 October 2009). "Ten held ahead of power station protest". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  27. ^ "Climate protest enters second day". BBC News. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  28. ^ "Power station demonstration ends". BBC News. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  29. ^ "Nuclear fusion power plant could bring £1.5bn of investment to Notts". The Business Desk. 2 March 2021.

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