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Mixed reaction to coal power plant closure strategy


The government’s strategy to close coal-fired power plants by 2025 has been met with a mixed reaction from the industry and environment experts.

Enforcing Carbon Capture and Storage technology on existing power stations was ruled out in a government report on the future of coal generation, and instead it set a new emissions intensity limit to generating units at 450g of CO2 per kWh of electricity generated.

The limit will apply from 1 October 2025, to align with the beginning of the Capacity Market delivery year, with the government stating it is not necessary to set an explicit constraint on coal generation before that date.

Drax Group chief executive Will Gardiner welcomed the “further clarity” from the government and said coal does not have a “long-term role to play in a low carbon future”. 

He said: “It’s great to have further clarity from the government about the future for coal and we look forward to working with them and helping to achieve this goal of making the power sector coal free in 2025.

“As we’ve said before, coal doesn’t have a long-term role to play in a low carbon future. We’ve already seen a dramatic fall in power generation from coal – an 84% reduction in the last five years, and a major shift towards lower carbon technologies. At Drax we’re exploring options for repowering our remaining coal units to use sustainable biomass and gas”.

However Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) analyst Jonathan Marshall said it is “mystifying” that ministers are allowing coal plants to continue to compete in the capacity market on an equal footing until 2025.

Marshall said: “While delivering on the top line of a 2025 closure, the government’s decision to allow coal plants to compete in the capacity market on equal footing until then looks like something of a missed opportunity.

“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.

“While these plants remain in action – and in receipt of Government support – the technologies of the future will continue to be stymied. 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.”

A consultation into the future of coal generation ran from November 2016 to February last year. The government response, outlining how it will achieve the goal of ending unabated coal generation by 2025, was published on Monday.


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