This is Ashford Power, a 21mW electricity generating station situated on the Kings north Industrial Estate in Kent. This is what’s commonly regarded as a peaking plant. Instead of running the entire time providing base load, it provides electricity to the grid at times of peak demand. When not in operation the plant sits on standby but is kept at a high level of readiness, such that it can be called and be fully operational in less than two minutes.
The plant consists of 14 engine houses, each containing a large reciprocating engine coupled to a three-phase electrical generator. These engines are internal combustion engines that we are generally all familiar with, albeit significantly larger and using mains natural gas instead of petrol or diesel.
For a fossil fuel, the carbon content of the gas is relatively low. These peaking plants will run for 1500-2000 hours per year, so their run times are pretty low. Wind and solar are intermittent and that means there is increasing pressure at times of peak demand on prices. This plant works by turning on when prices are high and turning off when prices are low.
The generators produce AC electricity which is synchronized with the local grid and exported to the distribution network. This is a fully automated, unmanned site. It’s monitored and controlled remotely and designed to be dispatched at the click of a button. This was a full turn-key design and build project for Clarke Energy. Clarke Energy was also the principal contractor for this project. We delivered the project in a 40-week program on time and on budget.
Safe And Reliable Operation
Clarke Energy’s national service coverage, UK’s parts holding, and high-quality design and installation will ensure the safe and reliable operation of this site for at least the next 20 years. These peaking plants enable a more sustained response to provide peak power when the grid needs to most. We believe this is a renewable enabling plant. Plants like these and the flexibility that these plants provide is going to be crucial to supporting and underpinning the roll out of offshore wind and this transition to a low carbon economy.