MP visits Little Barford Power Station

NE Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt visited the RWE owned Little Barford power station in his constituency Monday 19th August, to discuss the events of the national grid collapse on the 9th August, after shutdowns of both the wind power system at Hornsea and the gas powered station at Little Barford. The National Grid has released a preliminary report today on the incident, which caused widespread disruption in the SE of England for some hours.

Mr Burt said;

“I had a very useful morning at the power station and was talked through the events surrounding the shut down on the day by senior managers.

Although a lightning strike is highly probable as an instigator, it is still unverified what precisely triggered the fail-safe mechanisms which caused the stations turbines to shut down, which in turn ended the transmission of power to the grid. RWE is investigating through further tests precisely what occurred. The fail-safe mechanisms are designed to ensure maximum safety, work to extraordinarily tight tolerances, and Little Barford, since its inception over twenty years ago, has an excellent record.

I am clear that whatever happened at this one station, which was providing to the Grid on the day only about 2% of the nationwide power supply at the time of failure, should not have caused the impact on the national power system which was seen on that day with the extent of the disruption. The reliance of the train network in particular to an uninterrupted power supply, and its inability to cope with a short term loss, is of great concern, but the incident will have flagged up important lessons to learn for the future. From an initial reading of the Grid report, there does seem to have been a series of coincidental and very unusual circumstances.

When Parliament returns I expect it to want to pursue this issue. My concern remains the resilience of the system as a whole, and I know RWE and Little Barford will be doing all it can to ensure that such a problem does not occur again. There are wider questions to be covered in any inquiry/ investigation including the mix of energy in the UK, the consequent resilience of the system, the knock on effect on transport, and whether there are any security implications from what happened, and I shall be wanting to see good answers on this on constituents."

Photo: Alistair Burt with Peter Robinson, Head of Distributed Assets, RWE Generation UK and Mo Suleman, RWE