Power station towers demolished in ‘milestone’ for energy industry

Four cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station have been demolished in a "significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry".

Parts of West Yorkshire came to a standstill as the landmark towers, at the junction of the A1(M) and M62 motorways, collapsed in a controlled explosion.

Around 100 homes were evacuated around the site during the demolition and people gathered on roadsides and in nearby fields to watch the blowdown.

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Composite image showing four of the cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station, being demolished by controlled explosion, in a "significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry". Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
Four of the cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station, during their demolition by controlled explosion. Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
Four of the cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station, during their demolition by controlled explosion. Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
Four of the cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station, during their demolition by controlled explosion. Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
Four of the cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station, prior to their demolition by controlled explosion. Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
Motorway traffic is brought to a standstill as four of the cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station, are demolished by controlled explosion, in a "significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry". Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
File photo dated 17/01/00 of Ferrybridge Power Station in West Yorkshire. Four of the remaining cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station have been demolished in a "significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry".
Cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station collapse during demolition in Ferrybridge, Britain October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Ed Sykes
Cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station collapse during demolition in Ferrybridge, Britain October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Ed Sykes
Cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station collapse during demolition in Ferrybridge, Britain October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Ed Sykes
Cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station collapse during demolition in Ferrybridge, Britain October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Ed Sykes
Four of the remaining seven cooling towers of Ferrybridge C power station are demolished through controlled explosions, near Knottingley, northern England, on October 13, 2019. - Ferrybridge C is owned by energy firm SSE and began generating electricity in 1966. It was the first power station in Europe to produce electricity from a 500 megawatt machine. The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours. The station was closed in 2016 and demolition activities at the site are expected to be fully completed by summer 2021. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Four of the remaining seven cooling towers of Ferrybridge C power station are demolished through controlled explosions, near Knottingley, northern England, on October 13, 2019. - Ferrybridge C is owned by energy firm SSE and began generating electricity in 1966. It was the first power station in Europe to produce electricity from a 500 megawatt machine. The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours. The station was closed in 2016 and demolition activities at the site are expected to be fully completed by summer 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Four of the remaining seven cooling towers of Ferrybridge C power station are demolished through controlled explosions, near Knottingley, northern England, on October 13, 2019. - Ferrybridge C is owned by energy firm SSE and began generating electricity in 1966. It was the first power station in Europe to produce electricity from a 500 megawatt machine. The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours. The station was closed in 2016 and demolition activities at the site are expected to be fully completed by summer 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Four of the remaining seven cooling towers of Ferrybridge C power station are demolished through controlled explosions, near Knottingley, northern England, on October 13, 2019. - Ferrybridge C is owned by energy firm SSE and began generating electricity in 1966. It was the first power station in Europe to produce electricity from a 500 megawatt machine. The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours. The station was closed in 2016 and demolition activities at the site are expected to be fully completed by summer 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
KNOTTINGLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Four of the iconic cooling towers at the Ferrybridge C Power station are demolished on October 13, 2019 in Knottingley, England. More than 140 people were evacuated from their homes during the demolition, with those within the 328 yard (300 metre) exclusion zone asked to leave for their safety. Ferrybridge C, as the site is officially known, first opened in 1966, and generated over 2,000 megawatts from four coal fired units. Following its closure in 2016 which was brought about by rising costs and a failure to meet emissions legislation set by the European Parliament the power station was fully decommissioned and is now undergoing demolition. At its peak, Ferrybridge Power Station employed more than 900 people. The coal-fired station at Ferrybridge produced electricity for more than 50 years meeting the energy needs of nearly two million people. The start of the demolition works is a landmark moment in the UK’s energy transition towards a low-carbon future. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
KNOTTINGLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Members of the public and residents gather in the rain to watch as four of the iconic cooling towers at the Ferrybridge C Power station are demolished on October 13, 2019 in Knottingley, England. More than 140 people were evacuated from their homes during the demolition, with those within the 328 yard (300 metre) exclusion zone asked to leave for their safety. Ferrybridge C, as the site is officially known, first opened in 1966, and generated over 2,000 megawatts from four coal fired units. Following its closure in 2016 which was brought about by rising costs and a failure to meet emissions legislation set by the European Parliament the power station was fully decommissioned and is now undergoing demolition. At its peak, Ferrybridge Power Station employed more than 900 people. The coal-fired station at Ferrybridge produced electricity for more than 50 years meeting the energy needs of nearly two million people. The start of the demolition works is a landmark moment in the UK’s energy transition towards a low-carbon future. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
KNOTTINGLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Members of the public and residents gather in the rain to watch as four of the iconic cooling towers at the Ferrybridge C Power station are demolished on October 13, 2019 in Knottingley, England. More than 140 people were evacuated from their homes during the demolition, with those within the 328 yard (300 metre) exclusion zone asked to leave for their safety. Ferrybridge C, as the site is officially known, first opened in 1966, and generated over 2,000 megawatts from four coal fired units. Following its closure in 2016 which was brought about by rising costs and a failure to meet emissions legislation set by the European Parliament the power station was fully decommissioned and is now undergoing demolition. At its peak, Ferrybridge Power Station employed more than 900 people. The coal-fired station at Ferrybridge produced electricity for more than 50 years meeting the energy needs of nearly two million people. The start of the demolition works is a landmark moment in the UK’s energy transition towards a low-carbon future. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
KNOTTINGLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Four of the iconic cooling towers at the Ferrybridge C Power station are demolished on October 13, 2019 in Knottingley, England. More than 140 people were evacuated from their homes during the demolition, with those within the 328 yard (300 metre) exclusion zone asked to leave for their safety. Ferrybridge C, as the site is officially known, first opened in 1966, and generated over 2,000 megawatts from four coal fired units. Following its closure in 2016 which was brought about by rising costs and a failure to meet emissions legislation set by the European Parliament the power station was fully decommissioned and is now undergoing demolition. At its peak, Ferrybridge Power Station employed more than 900 people. The coal-fired station at Ferrybridge produced electricity for more than 50 years meeting the energy needs of nearly two million people. The start of the demolition works is a landmark moment in the UK’s energy transition towards a low-carbon future. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
KNOTTINGLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Four of the iconic cooling towers at the Ferrybridge C Power station are demolished on October 13, 2019 in Knottingley, England. More than 140 people were evacuated from their homes during the demolition, with those within the 328 yard (300 metre) exclusion zone asked to leave for their safety. Ferrybridge C, as the site is officially known, first opened in 1966, and generated over 2,000 megawatts from four coal fired units. Following its closure in 2016 which was brought about by rising costs and a failure to meet emissions legislation set by the European Parliament the power station was fully decommissioned and is now undergoing demolition. At its peak, Ferrybridge Power Station employed more than 900 people. The coal-fired station at Ferrybridge produced electricity for more than 50 years meeting the energy needs of nearly two million people. The start of the demolition works is a landmark moment in the UK’s energy transition towards a low-carbon future. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
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Roads were closed and rolling road blocks were used on the motorways as the towers were collapsed.

Spectators in nearby Pontefract watched in the rain as the four 114-metre-high towers collapsed in huge clouds of dust in a demolition that took around 10 seconds.

Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.

Sunday's demolition comes after another of Ferrybridge's eight cooling towers was brought down in July when Tower Six collapsed in a controlled explosion.

The final three towers are being retained in case a decision is taken to use the ground for a new gas-fired power station.

Drew McAdam, head of demolition at SSE, said: "The removal of these four cooling towers will be the single biggest blowdown event in the three-year demolition project at the site."

Ferrybridge Power Station
Motorway traffic was brought to a standstill (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr McAdam continued: "Ferrybridge C proudly produced electricity for 50 years and its decommissioning and demolition is a significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry.

"As the UK looks to take action on climate change, SSE is committed to supporting the low-carbon transition with a core focus on renewable energy."

Ferrybridge C opened in 1966 and became the first power station in Europe to succeed in generating electricity from a 500-megawatt machine.

The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours.

SSE decided to shut down the power station as it was believed to have no longer been economical.

The demolition activities at the site are expected to be fully completed by summer 2021 and are part of SSE's ongoing transition to a low-carbon energy future, in line with the UK's ambition for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The company has committed to further reducing the carbon intensity of the electricity it generates by 50% by 2030.

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