Britain is planning to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025 to curb carbon emissions, the first such move by a major economy.
It will tap nuclear power and natural gas to complement intermittent renewable energy, Reuters reports, citing Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd.
“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,” she said.
About one-third of Britain’s electricity came from coal-fired plants last year but many of the 12 still operating are old and due to close over the next decade under tightening European Union environmental standards.
Rudd said the government will begin a consultation next spring setting out proposals to close by 2025 all coal-fired power stations which are “unabated”.
These are plants not equipped to capture and store their carbon emissions. Their use will be restricted from 2023.
In September, British power producer Drax said it would halt investment in the country’s only coal power station carbon capture and storage project when it is completed.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said details will need to be ironed out after consultations with the industry.
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.
German utility E.ON operates a two-gigawatt coal-fired plant in Nottinghamshire, England, which is fitted with pollution-reducing technology that means it could still be running in 2025 under current legislation.
“We firmly believe that coal-fired power stations which meet rightly rigorous UK and European standards should remain an important part of the UK’s energy mix,” a spokesman for E.ON UK said.
Rudd said the government is committed to meeting a legally binding target to cut 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 coal-fired power stations with gas,” Rudd said.
Gas plants emit almost half the amount of carbon dioxide per megawatt of power generated as coal plants.
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