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Plans to bring coal phase-out date forward to 2024 unveiled

Cottam power station, which closed in September 2019. Image: EDF.

Cottam power station, which closed in September 2019. Image: EDF.

The government is planning to bring the phase-out date for coal generation in the UK forward to 2024.

It will consult on bringing forward the date, which is currently set at 2025.

Coal use in the UK is rapidly declining, with the country reaching a landmark record of two weeks without coal generation in May 2019.

In fact, coal generation fell to a record low of just 0.6% of the UK’s power demand in the three months ending June 2019, according to statistics from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

According to research by EnAppSys, coal now makes up around 2% of Britain’s mix.

There are six operational coal-fired power stations in the UK. Two, RWE’s 1.56GW Aberthaw B and SSE’s 1510MW Fiddler’s Ferry, are set to close in March 2020.

EDF’s 2GW Cottam plant has also shuttered in the past six months, and Drax intends to close its two remaining coal generating units at Drax Power Station by 2025.

Energy secretary Andrea Leadsom said coal generation is soon to be a “distant memory”.

“The UK has a proud record in tackling climate change and making the most of the enormous economic potential of clean technologies. This is my number one priority, and we will raise our ambition in this year of climate action,” Leadsom added.

Data from National Grid showed that zero carbon power generation outstripped fossil fuels for the first time in 2019, with 48.5% of the country’s power coming from zero carbon sources, including wind farms, solar and nuclear energy, alongside energy imported by subsea interconnectors.

Fossil fuels accounted for 43% of the electricity mix, and biomass the remaining 8.5%.

The sooner phase-out was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his speech to launch COP26 yesterday (4 February 2020).

The PM also unveiled plans to move the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars forward to 2035, as well as including hybrids within that ban.

However, former energy minister and former COP26 president Claire O’Neill heavily criticised the PM over the lack of leadership and support for COP and climate action in the UK.

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