On Monday (12 June), National Grid ESO asked Uniper to warm two coal units at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station to help meet a spike in demand due to increasing temperatures.
As reported by The Guardian, the call was in response to the additional strain on the energy grid as a result of more people utilising air conditioning to cool buildings amid temperatures of up to 30 degrees.
According to the coverage, one unit at the Ratcliffe plant, which is located close to Nottingham, was brought online on Monday morning. A second unit was then warmed in a bid to cover the evening spike in power demand which is often anticipated.
The warming of the coal units come as Octopus Energy called on the ESO to stop burning coal and instead use consumer energy consumption flexibility to reduce demands on the energy grid, as reported by Current± earlier today (13 June).
Harnessing coal to meet the demand due to soaring temperatures has been met with varying opinions from the wider industry. For instance, Jess Ralston, head of energy at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) believes coal must be fully phased out in order to achieve net zero and be replaced with renewable technologies such as wind and solar. Until then, coal will play a “bit-part” role in the electricity grid warned Ralston.
“Until we reach net zero emissions, the world will continue to get hotter and heatwaves like the UK’s 40.3C one from last year will become more frequent. This is bad news for vulnerable people, like the elderly, but it’s also going to put added strain on our power system to try to keep them and others cool,” said Ralston.
“Coal is playing a bit-part role in the electricity grid, and both here and in Europe its use is plummeting, partly because of its high emissions. With more offshore wind, and solar particularly in the summertime, coal’s back-up role will become redundant with smarter markets combined with batteries and other storage technologies.”
Climate group Greenpeace condemned the re-firing of the coal-fired power plants believing that renewables should instead be scaled at pace to phase out coal power.
🚨BREAKING: National Grid has requested a COAL-FIRED power station in the East Midlands to be warmed up – to cope with more people using air conditioners.— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) June 12, 2023
We’re using MORE coal to cool down the effects of the coal we’re using. It makes no sense.