The last coal power station in Britain will be forced to close in 2025, the government said as it laid out its plan to phase-out the polluting fossil fuel.
Ministers promised last year that the UK would close coal power within a decade and replace it with gas and other sources to meet its climate change commitments.
But in a delayed consultation on the phase-out, published on Wednesday, officials admitted that the last coal power station was likely to shutter in 2022 even without government intervention, prompting calls from campaigners to bring forward the cut-off year.
Greg Clark, the energy secretary, said the move sent a clear signal to the world that the UK was a good place to invest in clean energy. “Taking unabated coal power out of our energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technology, such as gas, will significantly reduce emissions from the UK’s energy use,” he said.
The government also confirmed renewable energy would receive £730m in support this parliament, and that bids for £290m of support annually would be opened from next April. Most of that is likely to be taken by offshore windfarm developers, which will receive at least £105 per megawatt hour of electricity generated if built in 2021, considerably lower than the £135 for ones deployed in 2018.
While admitting that recent history has shown coal power plants can close at short notice, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said its analysis suggested taking action on coal posed no risks to electricity supplies.
The department is consulting on two options for effectively forcing the UK’s last eight coal power stations to close by 2025 at the very latest. Both involve changes to the Emissions Power Standard, which sets a limit on new coal power plants’ annual carbon emissions based on their capacity, and which the UK’s ageing fleet would be unable to meet.
Officials expect that because air pollution and climate change measures are making coal uneconomic, the most likely scenario is that all coal power plants will close by 2022. But they also said that if the price of coal was low it was conceivable they would not close until 2030. They said this uncertainty showed the need for intervention.
Ben Caldecott, associate fellow of the thinktank Bright Blue, called for the end date to be brought forward. “There are significant benefits of phasing coal out sooner, rather than later. We believe that the 2025 target should be brought forward by at least two years to give investors greater certainty to invest, which will improve security of supply.”
(sourced from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/09/britains-last-coal-power-plants-to-close-by-2025)