LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Britain's first new large gas plant in three years began electricity generation this week, the owner of the Carrington plant near Manchester said.
The plant, with a capacity of 880 megawatts, can generate enough electricity to power around 1 million homes.
"Carrington Power Station is the first large-scale gas-fired power plant to come online in Great Britain since 2013," Irish utility ESB, the plant's owner, said in an emailed statement, adding that first commercial operations began on Monday.
"As well as providing 880MW of reliable baseload electricity, Carrington Power Station will be one of the most flexible plants providing fast back-up to intermittent wind and solar generation when it is needed most," ESB said.
The plant has already secured a contract for the winter of 2019/20 under the government's new capacity market scheme, which pays owners of power plants to provide back-up electricity at short notice.
The scheme will kick in when supply is too low to meet demand, for instance when renewable energy sources fail to produce enough power or when thermal power plants close or have failures.
Britain, which last week gave the go-ahead for EDF to build its 18 billion pound ($23.32 billion) Hinkley C nuclear project, needs several new power plants to be built over the next decade to replace its ageing power fleet.
All but one of Britain's existing nuclear plants, which produce around a fifth of the country's electricity, are set to close by 2030 as the plants come to the end of their operational lifespan.
Coal-fired power plants provided around a quarter of the country's electricity last year, but the government plans to close these by 2025 as a part of its efforts to meet climate targets. ($1 = 0.7718 pounds) (Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Adrian Croft)