Didcot B cooling towers repair ahead of winter generation

This month marks the beginning of a repair programme on Didcot B’s cooling towers following a fire in October last year. The station team has been hard at work to find efficient and cost effective repair solutions.

Didcot B, a highly efficient, combined cycle gas turbine power station, consists of two generating Modules (5 and 6) with a total capacity of 1.4GW. In October four cells within Module 5’s cooling tower structure and part of the wooden supporting structure were damaged; however no damage was caused to Module 6 or the rest of the station.

The onsite team completed a six month project to identify contractors who could deliver the repairs in a phased approach, and last month SPX Cooling Technologies were appointed as the main project contractors. RWE will rebuild units but have also identified components that can be refurbished and reused in-house, reducing both the overall cost and time of the project. RWE’s own teams will refurbish the gearboxes, whilst the site maintenance team will repair and refurbish the radiators.

Cells 19 and 22 only suffered minor damage and it is expected that they will be returned to service this summer. The significantly damaged cells 21 and 20 where the fire started will be back in service in September. The associated fans for the cooling towers will be installed in December.

Neil Scott, Didcot B Power Station Manager, said, ‘We are pleased to announce the project to repair the cooling tower of Module 5 has begun. The power station has been available to generate since the fire but the repairs will enable us to achieve a higher efficiency, and full station capacity as we approach the winter months.’

‘I would like to again thank the emergency services who worked alongside RWE teams to bring the fire under control quickly and safely.’

Investigations into the root cause of the fire identified a cooling fan unit fault; despite this the station was safely operating at 90% of its full capacity within two weeks.

RWE Generation’s UK power station fleet includes the largest and most efficient gas-fired power stations in Europe. The company is committed to maintaining its fleet, to help keep the lights on, despite difficult market conditions.