Government sets firm date for coal phase-out

The Government has confirmed that it will effectively outlaw coal-fired power generation by late 2025.

In an update on plans first announced in 2015, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said unabated coal generation which does not have carbon capture technology fitted would be banned from 1 October 2025.

The move would be enforced through an emission limit of up to 450 grammes of CO2 for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced.

Generation from coal-fired plans has already been declining rapidly in recent years and 2017 saw the first day of coal-free power generation since the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

Around 6 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity is currently in use but by 2025 this is forecast to fall to 1.5 GW.

In a statement BEIS said that it believed the Capacity Market will ensure that there is sufficient capacity in place to replace unabated coal units when they close.

‘Greenest year ever’

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) said the phase-out was a positive step for the UK energy sector but also called for further decarbonisation action.

“The way the government will implement the phase-out of coal commits them to using carbon intensity as a measure to exclude certain technologies from the capacity market.

Using maximum carbon intensity levels is something we have been calling for over the past year, and we now urge the Government to commit to further reducing the carbon intensity of technologies that can bid in so that dirty diesel facilities will no longer be eligible to bid into the scheme,” said Frank Gordon, Policy Manager at the REA.

The update on coal phase-out came as Claire Perry, the Climate Change and Industry Minister, also laid out the UK Government’s ambitions for 2018, with renewables, energy efficiency and electric vehicles at the heart of its green growth strategy.

Writing in the City AM newspaper, Perry hailed 2017 as “the greenest year ever”.

She pointed to figures from National Grid, which showed more than half of Great Britain’s electricity was generated from low-carbon sources between June and September.

She also highlighted green growth as a key plank of the UK Government’s industrial strategy, including last autumn’s £2.5 billion investment in low-carbon innovation.

Perry said: “Through support for science, research and innovation, we will secure the UK’s position at the forefront of low-carbon technologies, delivering high-value jobs up and down the country.

“I am looking forward to 2018 as a year to build on the foundations of our greenest year ever, take more action to help businesses improve their energy efficiency, and accelerate the switch to low-emission vehicles on our roads.

“We will invest further in renewables, reinvigorate technologies such as carbon capture usage and storage, and launch the country’s first Green Great Britain week.

“Our aim is to ensure we leave the world in a better place for future generations.”

Opposition criticism

Her comments come just weeks after Alan Whitehead, Labour’s Shadow Climate Change Minister, criticised the length of time it had taken the UK Government to publish its Clean Growth Strategy.

Whitehead warned that the UK was “still playing catch-up when it comes to the fourth and fifth carbon budgets”.

He added: “There’s a question mark still hanging around the government’s level of commitment.”

> Read Perry's article