Built in 1961, the British Gas Westfield Development Centre was a gasification plant to produce gas from coal – up until 1974 it was producing 20% of Scotland’s gas.
The plant used four Lurgi gasifiers – the idea was to secure gas supplies for when North Sea gas ran out, which would have been a brilliant theory if almost all the coal mines had not also been shut down. Nevertheless, after spending about £1bn in today’s terms, the process was pronounced a resounding success in 1991, and shut down in 1992.
A more modern test gasification plant was also built, as was a 120MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine built in 1992 by Global Energy, who bought the site.
The plant was bought by Scottish & Southern Energy in 2003 who operated the power station (using piped-in gas) until March 2011.
First, I had a look at the boiler house – I’m a little unclear on the exact process, but I think this was to produce “process heat” (i.e. lots of steam) for the gasification process, and it contains three coal-fired boilers.
Up at the top, a coal conveyor:
The roof, with views of the chimney:
Next the gasification plant:
Reached via the steep conveyors:
The whole place is ankle-deep in pigeon poo – ironically right next door is a cutting-edge biomass power station which runs on chicken poo. If they popped over with some wheelbarrows, there’s a good few kW in here.
The top of the gasification building, where hoppers feed in the coal:
To a lab:
And the control room:
Down and out for some outisde views:
This is the boiler house from the outside, the open space in front is where the gas turbine was. It was a GE frame-6 one which is portable:
Back inside, and various misc bits and pieces: