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Record breaking engine retires

The last-known operational Rolls Royce Proteus gas turbine engines in the world have been stood down at Wylfa Power Station, following 47 years of faithful service.

The turbines’ illustrious cousin famously powered Donald Campbell’s Bluebird C7 as it smashed the world land speed record in 1964, and others have been used in fast torpedo boats and cross channel hovercraft, as well as providing essential supplies to Wylfa’s sister site at Oldbury.

The first four generators, each capable of three megawatts output, provided essential standby electricity for Wylfa in the event that normal supplies were lost. They operated from 1971 when the site started to generate electricity.

In 1983, a fifth Proteus turbine was installed to provide additional power to Wylfa’s Secondary Dry Store Cells, used to hold spent nuclear fuel after being removed from the reactors.

The engines were believed to be the last remaining Proteus Gas Turbines in use anywhere in the world but, after 47 years of faithful service, they were stood down on 20th January 2018. When electricity generation at Wylfa ended in 2015 the site’s newer Electrical Overlay System was capable of providing back-up electricity supplies and there was no further need for the gas turbines.

Stuart Law, Wylfa Site Director, said: “Since we stopped generating electricity on 30 December 2015, a vast amount of work has been conducted to obtain regulatory approval to safely remove the redundant gas turbines from service. I thank the all the people who have been involved in that process.”

The gas turbines will be disconnected and all potential hazards removed, such as oils and batteries, before the asset disposals team sets about finding them a new home.

Did you know…

The gas turbines contain Bristol Siddeley Industrial Proteus PT.1287 engines that run on Class A2 gas oil to drive English Electric 3.3 kV, three megawatt generators.  Each turbine weighs 1,524 kgs and measures 2.68 metres from the drive coupling flange to the exhaust pipe flange.

The engine was originally developed at the end of World War 2 for aeronautical use and was subsequently developed for marine and electrical power applications. The engine is an axial reverse flow type, originally designed to facilitate the fitment of an integral reduction gearbox to drive an aircraft propeller. This made it suitable for its development for marine applications and power generation with relatively minor changes, but also means that the engine and gearbox package is a physically compact unit.