UK pro­poses clos­ing all its coal-fired plants by 2025

Gov­ern­ment to un­veil new di­rec­tion for en­ergy pol­icy

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

LON­DON: Bri­tain wants to close all of its coal-fired power plants by 2025 and lower their out­put from 2023, the gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day, making it the first ma­jor econ­omy to put a date on shut­ting down pol­lut­ing coal plants to curb car­bon emis­sions. Sec­re­tary of State for En­ergy and Cli­mate Changel, Am­ber Rudd, will set out fur­ther de­tails in a speech later that will seek to en­cour­age the build­ing of new gas and nu­clear power plants in­stead. Coal-fired power plants pro­vided around a third of Bri­tain’s elec­tric­ity last year but many of the age­ing plants have been due to close over the next decade due to tight­en­ing Euro­pean Union en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

Now a con­sul­ta­tion start­ing in the spring next year will set out pro­pos­als to close by 2025 all coal­fired power sta­tions which are “un­abated” - plants not equipped to cap­ture and store their car­bon emis­sions - and re­strict their us­age from 2023. “It can­not be sat­is­fac­tory for an ad­vanced econ­omy like the UK to be re­ly­ing on pol­lut­ing, car­bon in­ten­sive 50-year-old coal-fired power sta­tions,” Sec­re­tary of State for En­ergy and Cli­mate Change Am­ber Rudd will say, ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts of the speech she will de­liver at the Institution of Civil En­gi­neers.

Drax Group, op­er­a­tor of one of Europe’s largest coal and biomass-fired power plants, could see the re­main­ing coal units close two years ear­lier if the gov­ern­ment sticks to the 2025 clo­sure date, an­a­lysts at Jefferies said. “By putting a spe­cific date by which coal will be phased out, the gov­ern­ment will nat­u­rally fo­cus at­ten­tion on se­cu­rity of sup­ply,” the an­a­lysts said in a re­search note. Shares in Drax were down 0.8 per­cent at 224.8 pence by 1023 GMT, hav­ing al­ready fallen from over 600 pence in the past year.

Bri­tain hopes to fill the sup­ply gap with new lower-car­bon gas and nu­clear power plants, which will also help it to meet a legally bind­ing tar­get to cut its car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by 2050 to 80 per­cent be­low 1990 lev­els. “One of the great­est and most cost-ef­fec­tive con­tri­bu­tions we can make to emis­sion re­duc­tions in elec­tric­ity is by re­plac­ing coal­fired power sta­tions with gas,” Rudd will say. Gas plants emit al­most half the amount of car­bon diox­ide per megawatt of power gen­er­ated as coal plants. The move away from coal was wel­comed by cli­mate change cam­paign­ers seek­ing a re­duc­tion in car­bon emis­sions blamed for global warm­ing.

Later this month, world lead­ers will gather in Paris for UN ne­go­ti­a­tions to seek an ac­cord to curb green­house gas emis­sions. “The UK is demon­strat­ing the type of lead­er­ship that na­tions around the world must take in or­der to craft a suc­cess­ful agree­ment in Paris and solve the cli­mate cri­sis,” said for­mer US Vice Pres­i­dent and cli­mate change cam­paigner Al Gore. How­ever, some cam­paign­ers protested about the new em­pha­sis on burn­ing gas in­stead. “Phas­ing out coal is es­sen­tial for the cli­mate. But switch­ing from coal to gas is like an al­co­holic switch­ing from two bot­tles of whisky a day to two bot­tles of port,” said Si­mon Bul­lock of the en­vi­ron­men­tal group Friends of the Earth. — Reuters

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