SMALL scale power station developments are being proposed for two sites in Newport, as part of a network to be developed across the UK to provide a “last line of defence” against energy shortages and “potential blackouts.”

The former gas holder site on Docks Way, and land at Traston Road that used to host a BOC (British Oxygen Company) depot, have been earmarked as potential bases for small scale electricity generation plants by West Midlands-based UK Power Reserve Limited (UKPR).

The company’s aim is for the plants to contribute to the National Grid’s Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) programme, which seeks to rebalance supplies during unexpected periods of high demand for electricity, or where there are constraints on electricity generation in England and Wales, for instance if a major power station is temporarily out of use.

Four two megawatt (MW) gas-fuelled engine generators are proposed for the plants, each of which would have an electricity generation capability of 20MW. Combined, this could power several thousand homes.

UKPR has applied to Newport council for planning permission for the two projects during the past two weeks.

It is keen to secure planning permission for the projects no later than May, in order that it can qualify for the first auction for a new energy market called the Capacity Market, a big part of a programme to try to secure energy supplies in the UK, and which is being delivered by the Department of Energy and Climate Change

UKPR’s design, access and planning statements for the projects describe the generation of “standby” electricity, based on a STOR system that is called into use an average of once every three days, for “typically” less than 300 hours a year. An average STOR run is around 83 minutes.

“STOR generation is the last line of defence to prevent serious power fluctuations and potential blackouts,” they state.

Both sites are several hundred metres away from the nearest homes and the UKPR is stressing that the type of power generation proposed is efficient, with noise levels when the engines are running creating a decibel rate “equivalent to a loud conversation.”