Located 2 miles (3 km) to the southeast of Kincardine in Fife, on the shores of the Firth of Forth, Longannet Power Station is a 2304 megawatt coal-fired station, comprising four separate generating units. It has been operational since 1970 and for a time was the largest power station in Europe. Its 183m (600-foot) chimney is now the tallest free-standing structure in Scotland.
Longannet was identified as Scotland's leading source of pollution in a survey compiled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in 2003. In addition, ash is produced by the power station at the rate of up to 4350 tonnes per day, much collected to prevent it being expelled by the chimney to reduce environmental impacts. This is piped as a slurry to Preston Island (by Low Valleyfield), where it is deposited in artificial lagoons which were once salt pans. The level of ash is being built up and stabilised by landscaping as a means of reclaiming land from the Firth of Forth.
Longannet is run by Scottish Power, a privatised utility which now forms part of a multi-national energy group. The power station once took its coal directly by conveyor belt from the adjacent Longannet Colliery complex, the last deep coal mine in Scotland, until its closure in 2002. It is now fed with coal principally sourced from open-cast mines. The first carbon-capture unit attached a UK power station was commissioned here in 2009 to enable testing of this innovative technology, which is intended to help moderate climate change by storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide undergound.