End to coal power brought forward to 2024

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From 1 October 2024 Great Britain will no longer use coal to generate electricity, a year earlier than planned, Energy and Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has announced.

The UK government will introduce new legislation to do this ‘at the earliest opportunity.’

The Energy and Climate Change Minister commented: “Coal powered the industrial revolution 200 years ago, but now is the time for radical action to completely eliminate this dirty fuel from our energy system.

“Today we’re sending a clear signal around the world that the UK is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books and that we’re serious about decarbonising our power system so we can meet our ambitious, world-leading climate targets.

“The UK’s net zero future will be powered by renewables, and it is this technology that will drive the green industrial revolution and create new jobs across the country.”

In 2020, the UK generated 43.1% of its electricity from renewable sources, including wind (24.2%), bioenergy (12.6%), solar (4.2%), and hydro (2.2%). Coal only consisted of 1.8 % of the year’s electricity generation, and nuclear generation made up a further 16.1%.

The UK went 5,000 hours without coal-fired electricity in 2020, and earlier this year broke a new wind power record, with just over a third of the country’s energy coming from wind.

The UK government has already ended its support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas earlier this year.

In May, under the UK’s leadership, G7 Climate and Environment Ministers agreed to end all new finance for coal power by the end of 2021 and to accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity and to an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s.

According to the Impact Assessment published alongside the government’s consultation on bringing forward the date to end coal generated electricity that examined potential indirect impacts on coal mines, the analysis indicated that setting a closure date of either 2025 or 2024 is ‘unlikely’ to have a significant impact on the UK coal mining sector.

This is stated to be predominantly due to the fact that coal mining in the UK has ‘already been in decline in recent years’, reflecting a competitive global market and falling domestic demand.

In March this year, for the first time ever, coal-fired power plants did not participate in the four-year ahead Capacity Market auction, which secures the electricity capacity Great Britain needs to cope with peaks in demand in 2024 to 2025 at a low cost to consumers.

Going forward, coal power plants will not be able participate in any future Capacity Market auctions due to the introduction of Emissions Limits to the Capacity Market.

This policy only applies to coal used to generate electricity, not to other coal consumers such as the steel industry, nor to domestic coal mines.

The consultation outcome of ‘Early phase out of unabated coal generation in Great Britain’ is available on the UK Government website.