City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Video: Cockenzie Power Station Demolition


By edg - Posted on 26 September 2015

Today a piece of Edinburgh's local landscape was transformed with the demolition of the two 500-foot towers of the Cockenzie coal-fired power station in East Lothian.

The towers were demolished with some serious choreography: the first explosion struck at the base. The two towers stood tall for a last few precious moments, leaned slowly inwards toward each other, kissed, and then in a ripple of exploding concrete and a cloud of dust, slipped together from the skyline. From this angle, the dark cloud above the rubble takes the shape of a black heart for a moment before scattering on the breeze.

Completed in 1967, Cockenzie Power Station generated more than 150 Terawatt Hours (TWh) of electricity in its lifetime, enough to power the average annual electricity needs of more than 1 million homes every year during its 45 years of operation. However, greater awareness and concern about air pollution and coal's warming impact on our climate have rendered coal power stations such as Cockenzie obsolete.

Scottish Power decommissioned the thermal power station on 15 March 2013 with plans to build a cleaner burning natural gas power station on the the 93-hectare site, but have since decided not to pursue that course.

The demolition of the Cockenzie coal stacks has been received with mixed emotions. For some it will have been a melancholy sight. The towers have been a landmark in the area for decades, visible from Edinburgh and clearly visible from Portobello beach.

But the collapse of Cockenzie's coal stacks also has a powerful symbolism in an era where we know that we must get off of dirty, fossil fuel energy, particularly coal, to save the planet from the threat of catastrophic climate change.