How much coal we buy is based on our forecasts for what we’ll generate and our coal stock targets. We buy about half our coal from the UK and the rest from abroad.
Coal is one of our largest purchases. The coal supply chain has the potential to deliver a number of potential impacts, covering all areas of sustainable development (environmental, social and economic). To make sure we always have an adequate supply, we buy from both the UK and abroad – in 2006 the volumes were about equal.
Our wholesale markets team buys UK coal and biomass. Our Energy Counterparty Review Committee reviews the risks associated with all energy trading partners, taking ethical procurement into account.
Our trading arm, EDF Trading, buys imported coal and forward gas (future purchase gas options) for us. We're currently working with them to integrate the UN Global Compact framework on environmental and labour standards into our coal procurement process.
We've included sustainability assessments (to formally assess all our energy trading counterparties) in our standard risk management systems. These are based on the UN Global Compact social and environmental criteria and undertaken by a specialist organisation, Innovest Strategic Value Investors Ltd. We work closely with Innovest, particularly if they highlight areas of concern.
At the start of 2007 we also started reviewing our largest supply business customers. We also worked with Innovest in 2007 to make its scoring methodology more detailed.
Cottam power station
Cottam is a 2000MW coal-fired power station that could potentially supply 4% of the UK market. It’s on the west bank of the River Trent, about eight miles from the market town of Retford. The station runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Cottam's staff are vital in ensuring we meet the needs of our customers and of the wider community, by generating power in an efficient, environmentally-aware way.
Cottam has been recognised by a variety of sources in recent years, from the prestigious Midlands Business Excellence Award in 1999 to the environmental accreditation ISO 14001. It’s been accredited as an Investor in People since 1996. It was the first power station to achieve a RoSPA President's Award and we've built on this success with RoSPA President's Awards for Health & Safety Excellence.
Education and community
As part of Cottam's commitment to education and environment, we've developed our ash lagoons into a nature reserve, in partnership with the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. These are now a haven for over 180 bird species and other wildlife, making Cottam the fifth most important wildfowl site in Nottinghamshire.
The Cottam education centre has fully equipped classrooms available for a wide range of activities and groups. The year-round facilities are free and interlink with guided tours around the 620-acre site. We have two hides for bird watching by open stretches of water, or near the classrooms, where there are special feeding centres. Our experienced Rangers help teach environmental subjects.
West Burton power station
West Burton is a 2,000MW coal-fired power station on a 410-acre site in north Nottinghamshire, nine miles north-east of Retford. It runs 24 hours a day to satisfy the power requirements of around two million people. Running the station at the highest levels of efficiency and our insistence on fuel conservation means we use less coal to provide our electricity.
West Burton station prides itself on its people and the contribution they make to our success. It’s been accredited as an Investor in People since 1995, and the environmental management system has been accredited to ISO 14001 since 1996.
Education and community
West Burton firmly believes in celebrating the cultural background and natural beauty of its surrounding area. It has a Discovery Centre offering free environmental education to local schools and other interested groups. Part- or full-day sessions are facilitated by the Discovery Centre manager. The building has wheelchair access and facilities, with plans for future development outdoors.
There’s a discovery trail based in the Centre’s grounds, and a stretch of the River Trent that’s home to kingfishers and cormorants. There are also reed beds, which harbour reed buntings, sedge and willow warblers, sparrowhawks and long-eared owls.