Former Merseyside Coal Mine Site Now Balancing Grid


At the site of a former colliery in St Helens, Merseyside – Ylem Energy Ltd has commissioned the latest in a series of flexible power generation sites around the North West of England that are being used to balance the national grid during times of peak demand.

After the colliery closed in 1991, to ensure the safe management of the former site, Ylem Energy stepped in and enabled power to be generated from methane gas extracted from the redundant mine workings. After nearly 30 years and with the gas supply having now run out, the company has renewed its commitments to its longstanding partners by capping off the mine workings and installing 3MW of electrical generation plant fuelled by natural gas.

Owned and operated by Ylem Energy, the new generators – consisting of two units rated at 2MW and 1MW respectively – have been repurposed from Ylem Energy’s own fleet of landfill-gas-generation systems. Completely overhauled in-house by the company’s team of engineers and given a new lease of life, the systems have all been refurbished, installed, tested and commissioned in preparation for their contribution towards the UK’s drive towards decentralisation.

This fast-responding flexible power is essential to help balance the national grid during times of peak demand, especially when the output from fluctuating renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power is low.

Ian Gadsby, managing director of Ylem Energy Ltd, commented: “Our company has been generating power at the Sutton Manor site for around 20 years and when the coal mine methane gas supply started to run out, we were determined to continue to support the site’s owner – the UK Coal Authority – and maintain the power output from the site.”

“These types of systems are an essential component in securing the UK’s energy future and enable it to meet its target of net-zero carbon emissions. We have brought over 30MW of flexible power generation online since the spring of this year and with our raft of other projects, we have an overall target of building a company portfolio of 150MW well within our sights.”

Having installed a new natural gas pipeline to supply the site from the gas grid, the site’s existing 11kV electrical grid connection is being used to export the power generated, with the site’s safety systems having been brought up to the newer G99 standards.

Ylem Energy has also installed state-of-the art monitoring equipment to the capped-off mine shafts to ensure that the residual gas levels can be safely monitored and maintained. The generation plant that has been replaced at the Sutton Manor site, will itself, also be completely overhauled by the company’s engineering team and redeployed so it can continue usefully generating power at another site in the region as a part of Ylem Energy’s ongoing sustainability strategy.