UK’s 2025 coal phase out – realistic?

13th February 2017 | Commercial Energy

Renewable energy passed a key milestone last year in the UK. Implications for the Government’s coal phase out by 2025 could be huge. An analysis of official UK Government data by Carbon Brief shows that in 2016, the UK generated more electricity from wind than coal. This is the first time ever. For several days in March, coal generation fell to zero for the first time since public electricity started in 1882. By April, wind energy had overtaken coal for the first time.

The analysis found that wind power generated 11.5% of the UK’s electricity, compared with just 9.2% for coal. Last year also saw a first for UK solar power: in May, solar panels produced 1.38TW hours (TWh) of electricity. This far exceeded the 0.8TWh produced by coal-fired power stations.

Coal-Fired Power Stations

In early 2016, three UK coal-fired power stations were shutdown. In November, the Government announced its intention to close the remaining eight coal plants by 2025. However, the pledge originally made in 2015 to close all eleven coal plants within eight years will be tough to achieve.

The Government has already scaled back its subsidies for renewable energies. This could mean that the future growth of renewables could yet be stalled. In addition, the Government is facing increasing problems with the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor project. It is anticipated to meet 7% of the UK’s electricity needs over a 60 year period, but the earliest the scheme is expected to generate electricity is 2025.

One of the most likely sources of replacement energy is gas from fracking. However, this is facing still opposition from environmental lobbyists. Anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, has view that the fight will continue “both locally and nationally … to counter this clear and present danger.”

There is much to consider where the coal phase out is concerned and there are likely to be many twists and turns and other developments to this story before 2025.

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