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Littlebrook D Power Station
Manor Way, Littlebrook, Dartford, Kent, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  1977 - 1984
era  Modern  |  category  Power Generation  |  reference  TQ556764
Littlebrook D is the fourth, and only operational, power station on this Thames-side site. Its output is greater than the combined production of its three predecessors.
Littlebrook D is an oil-fired power station, built by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB). Construction began in 1977 and commissioning started in 1981. The £8m contract for its foundations was the highest value piling contract awarded in the UK to that date.
During construction, on 9th January 1978, the safety gear on a passenger and materials shaft hoist failed. Unfortunately, four men died and another five received serious injuries.
The facades of the power station buildings are partially of concrete block faced with an exposed aggregate finish. The aggregate came from Littlebrook quarries. The station's single chimney is 215m tall.
The three oil-fired turbines, each of four cylinder reheat design, operate at 3,000rpm. Each had a design maximum continuous rating of 660MW, which was increased to 685MW during commissioning.
In case of grid failure, the power station can be started by three open cycle gas turbines with a capacity of 35MW each and a pair of Rolls Royce Olympus jet engines (similar to those used on Concord). Littlebrook is one of the few British power stations that does not need an external power source to start generating electricity.
The generating capacity of the oil-fired turbines is 1,370MW. With the gas turbines, the total capacity increases to 1,475MW of electricity — enough to supply some two million people.
Heavy fuel oil is brought to the site by marine tankers carrying up to 20,000 tonnes, and stored on site in five tanks, each holding 110,000 tonnes. Gas oil is stored in two tanks, each with 5,000 tonnes capacity.
When the UK's electricity supply was privatised in 1991, ownership of Littlebrook D passed to National Power (subsequently Innogy) and it is now owned and operated by RWE npower plc.
To remove dust particles from the boiler flue gas, electrostatic precipitators were fitted to two of the boilers in 1996 — the first to be used on oil-fired boilers in Britain.
Two of the three oil-fired generating units are now in economic reserve. The owners have decided that the power station will ‘opt out’ of the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive, which deals with air-borne emissions from burning fossil fuels. That means electricity generation from oil will cease after 2015. There have been trials of alternative fuels from sustainable sources. One trial in July 2005, used biomass co-fired with coal or oil to generate electricity.
Littlebrook D meets the legal obligations of the Environment Agency for noise levels, emissions and discharges into the River Thames. It conforms to ISO 14001, the EU standard for environmental management.
Boiler supply: Clarke Chapman
Turbine and generator supply: General Electric (UK) Co
Piling: Raymond Concrete Pile
Research: ECPK

Littlebrook D Power Station