Climate Action

All of the UK’s remaining coal plants will shut down by 2025

The British government has published its long-awaited plans for how it will implement its ambitious coal phase-out plan by 2025.

  • 05 January 2018
  • Websolutions

The British government has published its long-awaited plans for how it will implement its ambitious coal phase-out plan by 2025.

In 2015, the UK government announced its intention to consult on proposals on how to phase out the unabated coal generation in the country. On Friday, it published its response to the consultation process that followed its announcement.

As an efficient way to proceed with the phase-out plan, it has decided it will set up stricter emissions intensity limits to coal generating units, to offer coal operators flexibility in case they are interested in investing in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or similar technologies to reduce emissions levels to acceptable levels - that is 450g of carbon per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

However, it is believed that it would be uneconomical for coal power plant owners to make such investment. Thus, the new pollution standards are considered an indirect enforcement for all coal plants to shut down by October 2025.

Dr. Jonathan Marshall, Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit commented:  “The coal phase-out will be welcomed by Britain’s international partners on climate change, and provides a riposte to administrations in the US and Australia that are desperately trying to keep their coal industries alive against market realities”.

Nevertheless, he expressed concerns over the fact that the government has decided to allow coal operators to continue receiving capacity market subsidies to be ready for back up supply of energy in case of emergency.

He added: “In light of recent rhetoric, observers could have expected a stronger move from the Government, that would utilise the market to remove coal generation as soon as possible rather than handing it another lifeline”.

“Analysis shows that the UK can move beyond coal well before 2025 without risking of supply interruptions, so it’s slightly mystifying that ministers haven’t tried to pull the plug out a little quicker”.

To date, there are 8 remaining coal power stations in the UK providing approximately 14 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity. The government already estimates that all these power plants are unprofitable, not only due to carbon taxes but also due to low gas prices.

Since 2012, coal generation has seen a dramatic fall of 80 percent, andfigures for this past year showed that coal supplied less than 7 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

You can access the Government’s response to the coal phase-out consultation here