The site, which is bounded by the River Lea and the main London to Cambridge railway line, has a long history of electricity generation.

A coal-fired power station designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott occupied the site from 1953 to 1984. In 1966, an open cycle gas-oil power station was built on the site and operated for 18 years. The combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station was opened in 1993. During its construction, efforts were made to reduce the visual impact of Rye House by careful use of colour, architectural treatment and extensive landscaping.

The station has three gas turbines and a steam turbine that together provide the most efficient form of thermal electricity generation. At its full output of 715MW the station can meet the electricity needs of nearly one million people.