UK’s coal plants to be phased out within 10 years

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Amber Rudd said the government was “tackling a legacy of underinvestment and ageing power stations”

18 November 2015

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The UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations will be shut by 2025 with their use restricted by 2023, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced.

Unveiling the government’s new energy strategy, Ms Rudd said that relying on “polluting” coal is “perverse”.

In a speech later today it is expected she will announce gas will become “central” to the UK’s energy supply.

Environmental groups welcomed the move away from coal but criticised plans to focus on gas instead of renewables.

‘Safe and reliable’

Currently, coal provides almost a third (28%) of the UK’s electricity, but Ms Rudd said “We are tackling a legacy of underinvestment and ageing power stations which we need to replace with alternatives that are reliable, good value for money and help to reduce emissions.”

Ms Rudd is also expected to say that investment in nuclear power is vital to the government’s policy.

She believes that plans for new nuclear power stations, including at Wylfa in Wales and Moorside in Cumbria, could provide almost a third of the low carbon electricity the UK needs for the next 15 years.

“Opponents of nuclear misread the science. It is safe and reliable,” Ms Rudd will say.

The speech comes amid concerns that the UK could suffer from blackouts as a result of short supplies, brought about in large part from the closure of a number of power stations that have come to the end of their working lives.

However, National Grid and many experts have dismissed these concerns.

The new energy system will be “competition-focused”, according to Amber Rudd

Concerns have also been raised about the costs to consumers of transforming the energy system to help tackle climate change.

The government cut renewable energy subsidies earlier this year, which led some to question the government’s commitment to tackle climate change.

However, the BBC understands that the government is not planning to revise its climate change targets.

And on renewables, Ms Rudd will warn that subsidies must be carefully focused on technologies that offer the best value for money, fitting into a “consumer-led, competition-focused energy system”.

Ms Rudd’s speech comes ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December, aimed at securing a new climate change agreement, which is expected to include pressure for targets to eliminate global emissions and phase out fossil fuels.

‘Like an alcoholic’

Environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed the phasing out of coal, but criticised the new emphasis on gas.

“Switching from coal to gas is like an alcoholic switching from two bottles of whisky a day to two bottles of port,” senior energy campaigner Simon Bullock said.

Greenpeace’s head of energy Daisy Sands also criticised the new strategy.

“Launching a new dash for gas and new nuclear is not the solution as it will only lock in more dirty power than we actually need for a low-carbon transition,” she said.

The GMB union’s national secretary for energy Brian Strutton welcomed Ms Rudd’s statement but added: “Government needs to get on with addressing the urgent need for nuclear power stations and gas-fired stations to supply reliable power.

“The investment will only happen when the framework is right, which it is not now.”

Tags: business, business news  financial news, business finance, small business websites

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