UK’s coal-fired electricity ban officially brought forward to 2024
30th June 2021 | Commercial Energy
The UK Government first announced plans to move the date from 2025 to 2024 in February 2020 and said, at the time, that the official change to legislation would be made ahead of COP26. At that time, the UN climate summit was still set to take place in autumn 2020. It was subsequently delayed for a year due to Covid-19.
Today (30 June), Ministers confirmed the October 2024 date. The phase-out applies to coal-fired electricity generation only; industrial sectors including steelmaking will still be permitted to use coal for heat to be used in processes. Similarly, coal mines in the UK will still be permitted to operate, with extracted coal to be used domestically for heavy industry or internationally.
Coal exported may still be used for electricity generation. However, the UK is calling on all other nations to implement their own legally binding phase-out dates.
At the recent G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, participating nations collectively agreed to develop net-zero targets for their power sectors in the 2030s. Dates will vary between nations but there are new shared commitments on coal. G7 governments must end direct support for new thermal coal generation capacity without co-located carbon capture technologies by the end of this year. All other “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies must then be phased out by 2025.
Looking specifically at the UK’s domestic electricity generation space, coal accounted for almost 40% of generation in 2010, but its share of the energy mix in the electricity sector had fallen to 1.8% by 2020, as more gas and renewables came online. 2020 saw the UK experiencing more than 5,000 hours without coal-fired electricity.
“Coal powered the industrial revolution two hundred years ago, but now is the time for radical action to completely eliminate this dirty fuel from our energy system,” Energy & Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.
“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.”
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